If you peel away the shiny and decorative layers, the fundamental aspect of yoga remains -- that it is a physical, mental and emotional exercise that facilitates mindfulness and helps you gain perspective. YoKid provides that opportunity to children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, many who face stresses, violence or deprivation in their daily lives.
Michelle graciously agreed to be part of the blog's interview series and our Q&A follows below.
...No one has ever really connected the dots quite like this but yes, I suppose it does really make sense when I take a step back. YoKid was the product of an idea between me and Ellie (*Ellie Burke, the co-founder.) Initially, there was no "Big Picture" or anything like that. We...stumbled upon an opportunity to teach yoga to an underserved group at a middle school. After the first classes the kids started to get into it. Thinking out loud one day, we thought all kids should have this opportunity despite costs - as yoga and mindfulness is so life enhancing - how could we get this to more kids who wouldn't normally be able to afford it? From there YoKid was born and so the story goes.
This year, YoKid turns ten and I'm grateful that we are still here, doing the preventative health type work that we do with kids -- teaching them to connect with the world around them by being be self-aware, physically active, mindful, decreasing their stress, increasing their focus...
Since 2006 we've introduced yoga to more than 7,500 students which has been a neat experience.
My dream is to integrate seniors into our program so that they are in the classroom working alongside our teachers in teaching the kids yoga and mindfulness. The intergenerational work is important to me personally and I also think it can be key in a program like ours. Hopefully that is something we can do down the road.
(In the nearer term)... I would like to see our programs in the DC-area thrive in combination with the National Kids Yoga Conference
Typically they reach out to us via our website or we come across an organization that we would like to work with and we begin to work on logistics with the potential client.
Yoga is a discipline that focuses on things that go against our society’s everyday norms (slowing down, mindfully breathing, conscious relaxation, etc.) which makes it tough to "sell" to kids sometimes. We trainour volunteers to keep things fun and our curriculum includes music and games. We also work hard in the classroom to provide opportunity for plenty of yoga-based movement. Over time, the kids like how they feel during and/or after class and it becomes a normal part of what they do (like soccer, basketball, etc.) so they begin to look forward to it.
how you can support yokid
We LOVE community support - through both volunteering
and direct donations to sponsorship of our programs.
Donations support our programs for underserved communities, including scholarships for teens to attend the National Kids Yoga Conference.
In the community we would like to develop meaningful partnerships with area schools on the district level and also area businesses that will sponsor our programs.
on parenthood and juggling
(..And the husband and our family's dog...) Seriously, I am always learning...I think I've learned about imperfection and just how okay imperfection really is, that life is happening now every moment and there are choices that need to be made - all of the time, and that some moments are better than others - which is also okay. And, I've learned that I will continue to learn many of the same lessons over and over again in different ways. I guess reading this for edits, I've learned that there are many very true cliches ;)