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Our Kids, On and Off the Mat

July 29, 2014

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“You’re a new person!” exclaimed a 12 year old boy to his 13 year old peer on the last day of our Vista Hill SmartCare Ramona Yoga, Art & Wellness Camp*, as we were walking from our lunch break at the park to our final yoga class.  My heart sang as I quietly heard this exchange, as I’d noticed this amazing transformation myself, over the short five days of our camp.  The boy went on to express his observations about her interactions and appearance, as she silently smiled in acknowledgement.

When this young girl arrived on Monday morning, she was dressed in all black:  long pants, a sweatshirt, with the hoodie pulled up over her head, and her hair hanging down in her face, despite the 90+ degree temperatures  we experienced that day and throughout the week.   I was doubtful that she would return the next day, as she was the oldest participant, and she didn’t engage with anyone that first day.  But she did come back, again and again.  The change in her clothing was the most obvious of the transformation each day, as she shed the long pants for shorts, the sweatshirt for short sleeves and then sleeveless, and the black for bright colors.  By Wednesday she started to pull her hair back off her face, and then up.

This girl looked forward to each art project, began assisting her younger peers, and most impressively, volunteered supportive and encouraging praise when each of her peers “shared” their projects at the end of each session.

It was also obvious that she gained as much from our yoga classes.  She intently paid attention, building from her experiences each day, and demonstrated “off the mat” the themes we incorporated, such as self-expression, appreciation of nature, breath-work, mindfulness and friendship.

When we had some quiet moments, I was grateful to see that she was receptive to my observations and encouragement as well.

This girl, as well as all of our participants, were truly engaged in all aspects of this Wellness Camp.  They were eager to assist their peers.  They volunteered to help clean up after each art project and each yoga class.  Amazingly, not only the 8 and 9 year olds, but also the 11, 12 and 13 year olds clamored each day to be chosen to be the “line leader” and the helpers to carry the “heavy stuff” as we transitioned from one activity to the next.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago in Lessons Learned From Very Wise Children, the benefits of art and yoga for our youth are tremendous for body, mind and soul.  But as I was reminded this past week, the benefits of connecting, of creating relationships, within these amazing settings and beyond, are priceless.

Pamela Sachs, LCSW

 

*the Ramona Youth Yoga, Art & Wellness Camp was made possible through funding  from the Ramona Community Foundation

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Susi Jones permalink
    July 30, 2014 2:33 pm

    Beautiful!

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