- Gabelmann, Sergia
Through the 4-H Yoga for Kids Program, youth achieve optimal physical, social and emotional well-being. Through yoga youth combine breathing, physical posture, and mindfulness to help strengthen and calm the body and mind. Chatham County 4-H worked in partnership with school counselors, and teachers promote the participation of elementary school students in 4-H Yoga for Kids.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), globalization exposes children and young people all over the world to various new standards and options. Children not only have new resources in their lives. Different institutions in children and adolescents’ lives, such as family, school, and the media, constantly provide stimulation as well as new expectations. This exposure to new expectations and demands has the potential to create stress in young people’s lives, especially related to evaluation of their performances. The link between physical and emotional health is well documented. Young people who have good physical health are more likely to have good mental-emotionalbehavioral health. Young people with special health care needs or chronic health problems are at greater risk for mental-emotional-behavioral disorders. Therefore, it is important that social-emotional health and well-being included as an important goal of comprehensive healthy living initiatives. It is important to equip Chatham County youth with the proper tools to manage stress and stressors so that they can maintain a positive outlook on life, optimal mental well-being, and maximize their academic potential. Savannah-Chatham County School system has also reported an increase in students with learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and social disorders.
To help youth cope with the demands over stimulation and the expectations in society Chatham County 4-H collaborated with school counselors from SavannahChatham County School to provide monthly yoga sessions for 58 students. In March, when the COVID pandemic closed the schools in Chatham, the counselors reach out and asked if Chatham 4-H would continue yoga session via zoom. The virtual sessions continued until the end of the 2019 – 2020 school year. The virtual yoga sessions were schedule weekly before classes began, we had an average of 20 students, teachers and counselor attending. The session were shorter but very productive. One student said "this was the best part of my school day." The 4-H Yoga for Kids was made available as a before-school activity for students from 1st -5th grades to participate in. Bloomingdale Elementary and West Chatham Elementary school counselors promoted the morning sessions through their teacher, counseling sessions and social media. Chatham 4-H provided monthly yoga sessions in the school gyms. During each yoga session, each student participated in breathing techniques, basic warm-up, and verbal guidance through poses, individual practiced, positives affirmation and guided relaxation This practice correlated with the healthy living, social and emotional well-being component of Georgia 4-H. The yoga sessions were more than physical activity, the practice promotes a connection between the mind and body. During each yoga session the student participated in a guided yoga story that allowed the student to transfer the yoga poses into animals and fairytale characters, this was a successful because the story kept them focus on the poses. Various resources were used to teach: Yoga 4-H Kids, Yoga Journal and Cosmic Yoga Video.
Formal evaluations were conducted with survey for school counselors and informal reflection with students after yoga sessions. Formal Counselors: Did the student enjoy the yoga session (100%) Were the session beneficial to the student (100%) Did the student’s behavior improve while at school (100%) Would your school participate in 4-H yoga again (100%) Were the virtual 4-H session beneficial to the students (100%) Kelly Pennington –Bloomingdale Elementary School Counselor comment: ‘The kids that joined the Yoga sessions really enjoyed themselves and most took it very seriously. They felt like they belonged to a special group and knew they were doing something that was good for their minds and bodies. We are working hard to teach and reinforce skills to address self-regulation and making positive choices....these Yoga class were perfect for our kids!’ Jill Stancell – West Chatham Elementary School Counselor comment: “The kids love it and it really helps prepare them for the day” Informal Reflection by Student: After the yoga session do you feel more relax then before? a) 85% said they did b) 15% said a little Have you learned different techniques on how to cope with stress? a) 75% said they learned new breathing techniques b) 12% said clearing their thoughts c) 13% said thinking happy thoughts Do you agree that Yoga is beneficial and served a purpose? a) 100 % agreed b) Zero disagreed Students showed knowledge gained through their comments: ‘I learned how control my anger through breathing’ ‘I feel better after I do yoga in the mornings.’ ‘When are you coming back to our school again?’ ‘My yoga is getting better’ ‘I have a better day at school after yoga.’ ‘Learn lots about yoga animals.’
Health & Nutrition
- Year: 2020
- Geographic Scope: County
- County: Chatham
- Location: College Station, Athens
- 4-H Youth