Project Yoga Cincinnati

Field Notes from Gina

Greetings from my yoga mat! Project Yoga programs have been in full swing this spring and I wanted to share some updates and opportunities with you.

A large part of our focus includes yoga and mindfulness for schools or other youth-based settings. A look at the statistics validates why we continue to add programs for children and teens. Childhood poverty rates in Cincinnati are second highest in the nation, with 53% of children living below the poverty line. One in three children are obese or overweight. One in five of our teens suffer from mental health challenges. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has seen a 60% increase in the number of children coming to the Emergency Department for psychiatric evaluation. The number of children in Hamilton County alone who have been involved with Children’s Services last year could almost fill U.S. Bank Arena!

Project Yoga delivers customized curriculum to our most vulnerable young people. One size does not fit all, as they say. It makes sense to teach nonjudgmental awareness and self-regulation skills to children and teens, before layers of conditioning and trauma are imprinted on their minds and bodies. Time and time again, research validates what practitioners have experienced for centuries– practicing yoga and mindfulness regularly supports emotional regulation and cognitive development, reduces anxiety depression, and promotes happiness.

In March and April, Project Yoga brought additional classes to life. At St. Aloysius, the team from Move Your Hyde Yoga led third to eighth graders through a workshop series designed specifically for kids who face emotional and behavioral challenges. Our six week intensive schedule allowed a large number of St. Al’s students to participate and learn new coping skills. Project Yoga at the Boys and Girls on Glenway Ave. added a new after school program for middle schoolers, and we’ve signed on to lead classes there all summer long as well. In early May, I was asked to co-facilitate an Introduction to Mindfulness and Yoga at Mason High School. The response from the kids was really rewarding–over 125 students met us on the mat that day and that effort funded an intensive for teachers at Western Hills High School!

Project Yoga programs in Dayton continue to grow and flourish. For the past three years, our team in Dayton has been teaching at Homefull, a homeless shelter that serves 3,500 people annually. We teach classes to Homefull’s administrators and support staff and a second class to the children living in Homefull’s long term housing facility. You may recall that we held our First Annual Dayton Friendraiser Breakfast in February–the support and momentum generated at that event has allowed us to offer an additional weekly class for kids this summer at Homefull.

Thanks to those of you that came out to our hOMe class at the Milford Spiritual Center in March! Funds raised allowed us to conduct a pilot program for 3-5 year olds at the YMCA in downtown Cincinnati.

As we head into summer fun, I don’t want to close without taking a moment to thank you for your belief in our mission, financial support and encouragement. I know that I can speak for the entire Project Yoga team when I say we are so excited to see what the rest of 2017 brings!

Wishing you all the best,

Gina Fennell
Executive Director