January 12, 2018

How a Kentucky school district is using yoga in the classroom

Three inspiring stories of innovation and ingenuity across America

Students at a Louisville elementary school practice mindful meditation. Image courtesy of The Compassionate Schools Project. Watch the full video here.

Every Friday, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions individuals and organizations are creating in their communities. Want to share a story from your hometown? Email us at info@therenewalproject.com.

Mindful learning: Educators understand the important role that physical, social, and emotional development play in a student’s overall academic success. Different schools achieve this wholistic approach in different ways. In Kentucky, some schools are turning to yoga. The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education, recently told the story of one Louisville, Kentucky, elementary school that incorporates yoga, mindfulness, and also healthy eating into its curriculum. It’s part of a program from the Compassionate Schools Project, Hechinger reporter Tara García Mathewson writes. The curriculum for the project was developed by faculty at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. The project has partnered with Jefferson County Public Schools district, which serves Louisville, to provide support for teachers on implementing the curriculum. “[The Compassionate Schools Project] is really helping prepare their bodies and minds—the whole child—to be ready to learn what we want them to learn,” Tish Jennings, an associate professor at the University of Virginia, told The Hechinger Report.

Text support: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBT youth are at greater risk for depression and suicide. The Trevor Project is an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. Amit Paley, the organization’s chief executive officer and executive director, recently spoke with Good.is reporter Britni Danielle about reaching these young people in their time of need, wherever they are. In 2017, Good.is reports, The Trevor Project served close to 75,000 youth in need across its text, phone, and online messaging channels. “It’s really important that we ensure we are meeting young people wherever they are, and we know that young people today are frequently in needing different digital modes,” Paley said in the interview. The nonprofit currently offers online chat services seven days a week, and text messaging services Monday through Friday, but Paley said they are trying to expand digital chat services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For those in crisis, the TrevorLifeline is always available at 1-866-488-7386.

Creating community: When Vannady Keo was a freshman at his suburban Seattle high school, he struggled to find the right balance between being a typical American teen and trying to please his Cambodian-born parents. Throughout high school he battled with depression but during his sophomore year, his outlook changed when he met other students with similar backgrounds. Enter the Southeast Asian Young Men’s group (SEAYM), part of at Seattle’s Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS). The organization “promotes social justice and the well-being and empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities–including immigrants, refugees, and American-born,” according to its website. Keo spoke about his experience with the group for a feature in The Seattle Times. The program uses documentary filmmaking as a tool to engage the young men and get them to discuss issues important to the community. The group recently produced a documentary that explores the higher dropout rates among southeast Asians compared to other Asians. A documentary that Keo made even won him a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with lawmakers. The trip even inspired him to pursue politics one day. “For me, I don’t want to make some random company money for the rest of my life,” Keo told Times reporter Ryan Blethen. “I want to put something into the world.”

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.