Wellness Yoga for Petree Elementary School Students
The UU Fellowship of Winston Salem, NC, is raising $4,000 to enable Petree Elementary School to continue and expand its highly-effective yoga program.
Our Fellowship has a longstanding relationship with this Title I majority-minority school in our community. In 2015, with the help of a grant from the Mayor ‘s office and instruction from a non-profit called “Breathing Access,” the school implemented a yoga program for third-grade students to help them cope with the stress of crucial end-of-grade testing.
Yoga teaches a life-long practice of stress reduction and physical health. Yoga instruction improves behavior and focus, reduces anxiety and aggressive behavior, and supports children dealing with trauma. At Petree Elementary yoga has been used as an alternative to detention and other punishments with great success.
Although the program showed positive results and great potential, funding for this year is insufficient to continue and expand the program.
Funds we raise will reinstate the vital third-grade program and expand the program to fourth and fifth-grade students for a weekly elective class. This money will also give staff training in how to assist children exhibiting behavioral issues and to assist children dealing with trauma.
BUILDING LIFELONG SKILLS FOR PHYSICAL STRENGTH AND MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING
Yoga empowered the students at Petree to feel in control of their bodies, and it gave them tools to calm their minds. As the children work together, they see each other as partners and develop compassion and empathy for each other. This program is extremely important for all students, especially those who have experienced trauma. Yoga helps them build resilience and teaches them a skill which can benefit them throughout their lives.
Christine Bloomfeld, yoga instructor at Petree
Dr. Essie McKoy, the principal of Petree Elementary who initiated the yoga program, observed an improvement in the behavior of the third-grade students participating in yoga. According to Dr. McKoy, those benefits included:
- Fewer disciplinary issues and fewer out-of-school suspensions;
- Less reactive behavior and an increased ability to reflect and devise alternative responses to conflict and stress inside the school, in the home, and in the community;
- Creation of relationships with other students outside of their normal interactions due to the different team techniques incorporated during yoga;
- Cohesion and trust within the small group exercising together;
- Increased creativity and increased enjoyment in being involved;
- Increased self-confidence.
In addition, some parents reported that their children lost unwanted weight during the program.
Dr. McKoy’s aim was to address the needs of the whole child. As the program unfolded, Dr. McKoy noticed that the children’s vocabularies increased as they were exposed to new postures and techniques. Yoga practice increased the students’ mental capacities and gave them a new sense of belonging to something special. More importantly, the children became excited about the program and specifically asked for the “yoga lady.”
This program, along with Dr. McKoy’s emphasis on the “whole child” improved academic scores. Petree began with a -3.32 EVAAS (Education Value-Added Assessment System) growth index, and in a short amount of time, achieved a +2.24 EVAAS growth index, exceeding expected growth. As a result Petree became a “Piedmont Signature School.”
BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN
Dr. Marlynn Wei wrote in the Harvard Medical School Health Blog:
Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children (ages 6 to 12). Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. Yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.
Emerging research studies also suggest that yoga can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by improving the core symptoms of ADHD, including inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It can also boost school performance in children with ADHD. A growing number of schools now integrate yoga and mindfulness into physical education programs or classroom curriculums, and many yoga studios offer classes for school-age children. Yoga can be playful and interactive for parents and children at home, as well.
Marlynn Wei, MD, JD, Contributing Editor, “More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children,” posted January 29, 2016. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/more-than-just-a-game-yoga-for-school-age-children-201601299055
“Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children ages 6 to 12.” ~ Harvard Medical School Health Blog
Most children in under-served schools in our county do not have the opportunity for the enrichment that this yoga program provides. Nevertheless, these students are the most in need of practices to help them with in-school and out-of-school stress and trauma. Yoga enables them to self-calm and to be less reactive in stressful situations.
Your generous contribution will ensure that this program is renewed. Please help us create a focus that is positive and restorative.
“Mothers of a...
My commitment is to help my home congregation live our 6th Principle by bearing witness to the experiences of the Palestinian people and reporting back to them and the UUJAZ network and other faith and justice groups in Arizona so that we can build capacity to answer the call to justice in that region. Although this will be (literally) new ground for us, Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation has always shown readiness and willingness to “answer the call of love.” http://www.vuu.org/opportunities/social-action/
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