I teach at an all girls' public high school in the Bronx where 25% of students are English Language Learners and 22% are students with Individual Education Plans. The students I teach grapple daily with being bounced around different foster home situations, gang-related gun violence resulting in the loss of loved ones, the stress of being displaced from their home countries due to war, and daily survival because of socioeconomic hardships.
Despite the tears shed and anger displayed within the classroom as a result of their hardships, students are eager to learn, grow their mindset, and persevere as young adults preparing to enter the world.
Without a doubt, these ladies will use their strength in overcoming adversity and capitalize on their life experiences to make a great impact on the world.
Being that the school is small, I know all the students. Students whom I do not directly teach confide in me regularly. I am thankful to be working with a fantastic group of young ladies and helping them achieve success in their lives.
Yoga and mindfulness training has brought a lot of stability to my once tumultuous life. It has saved my life time and time again when I found myself immersed in stressful and anxiety-provoking situations. Being a product of urban education and an educator in public schools, I know the importance of introducing students, and hopefully the local community, to the multiple benefits of practicing yoga and mindfulness. With financial assistance for the Breathe for Change program, I can formally pursue my love of yoga and mindfulness with education to further reach students and guide them over internal barriers to academic success. After completing this program, I will be a certified yoga teacher and qualified to lead wellness classes for students and community members.
The power of breathing, meditation, and yoga practice empower students by equipping them with healthy tools for gaining control over their lives despite how out-of-control the environment around them may be.
Knowing through personal experience that this practice is life-changing, I am dedicated to starting the first Mindfulness Club at our school. Because our school shares space with two other schools, the club will be open to all students in the building.
There is a lot of trauma in our school community that inadvertently finds its way into classrooms. With suspensions reaching more than 22 per year, this classifies my school as "dangerous," and I believe this club can reduce if not completely eliminate the number of suspensions. In a school such as mine, which serves a very diverse population, teaching wellness of body and mind conveys to students and community that they matter in a world that often neglects and devalues their existence. Wellness tools help students discover qualities like self-love, patience, and self-advocacy within themselves.
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