A, B, C, Ommm
The positive impact of incorporating physical activity into the school day is being seen across the US and around the world as schools have begun to integrate movement and mindfulness exercises into classrooms. Ranging from yoga and meditation to mindfulness classes, administrators and students themselves are introducing these classes to the curriculum.
At Marblehead High School in Massachusetts, students take part in meditation in the “Zen Room” in their school before classes. According to the school’s principal, Layne Millington, the climate at the school improved after implementing mindfulness, resulting in his students being able to be “more precise and more specific if there's something going on that they are concerned about.” What is the importance of this? Youth are less likely to turn to fighting, drugs and suicide to cope with their issues. In fact, analysis shows there has been a decrease in teenagers living with depression, anxiety and other chronic illnesses as a result of these exercises.
While these programs benefit all people, children and young adults in under-served communities or who have suffered from trauma can benefit even more greatly from the physical activity and lessons taught in the program. These lessons — or soft skills — include patience, teamwork and mindfulness. As an organization, TYO understands this approach and implements it. TYO classes “hold structured games that teach children how to follow rules, cooperate with fellow students” and “gives students the opportunity to discover and express themselves”. The organization also offers physical education courses and has offered yoga classes for women. TYO’s existence and curriculum are crucial for the children and adults living in the West Bank who come from low-income areas and refugee camps. By being proactive as opposed to reactive, these programs prevent crime and teach life skills. The success is heartening and hopefully, more organizations like TYO will develop around the world teaching not only the A,B,C’s but also “Omm”.
The Core Early Childhood program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.
Kyra, EFL Fellow, Spring 2016