When Michelle Obama isn’t mom-dancing with Jimmy Fallon to promote the third phase of her “Let’s Move” initiative to fight childhood obesity, she’s touring the country, motivating kids to get moving and doling out praise to schools that have already committed to providing students with more physical activity during the school day. And, more yoga?
Invited to her event in Chicago yesterday was Namaste Charter School from Chi-town’s South Side. Namaste is, as you might have guessed, a progressive school. It’s a “year-round” school based on a holistic approach to education that “combines health and wellness with academic rigor in a peaceful environment,” the website says. In 2011 Namaste was the second school to win the Gold Award of Distinction from the HealthierUS School Challenge, a Department of Agriculture initiative and $2000 as part of Lady Obama’s monetary incentives for schools’ voluntary commitment to physical wellness. That includes nutritional and physical education.
“The Healthier US schools Challenge requires schools to offer high nutrition standards, nutrition education and physical activity,” Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of the Healthy Schools Campaign said at the Chicago event.
But Namaste is special. (We imagine the name gives it away.) As part of their curriculum, students at the school develop yoga skills like balance, strength, flexibility, concentration, and mindfulness and participate in 60 minutes of physical education every day. They have something called Peaceful People Curriculum based on Disarming the Playground: Violence Prevention Through Movement and Pro-Social Skills by Rena Kornblum.
There are four main units:
Spatial Awareness: Children learn to protect their own space and respect other people’s spatial needs.
Self-Control and Stress Management: Children learn to recognize their excitement or agitation level. They learn strategies for calming themselves down and controlling their impulses.
Managing Anger and Building Empathy: Children learn physical cues for recognizing feelings in others, how to express support for others (showing empathy), positive problem solving to get their needs met, and strategies for managing anger.
Pro-Active Interventions and Conflict Resolution: Children learn strategies for dealing with conflict and aggression.
Also, they offer healthy breakfasts and a salad bar lunch option. And the name of the school is Namaste!
Now, call us peaced-out, health-crazed hippies, but that sounds like the archetype for the coolest yogadork school in the country. What are the rules on repeating third grade as a 30-year-old, again? And it’s a far cry from the lawsuits and bickering out in California. Who would have thought Chicago’s South Side would out-yoga Encinitas, CA?
Mrs. Obama’s goal is to get 50,000 schools involved in the Let’s Move program over the next five years. If FYLOTUS (First Yoga Lady of the United States) Michelle Obama has her way, maybe we’ll be seeing more yoga in schools faster, and with less conflict, than we thought.
(Where’s the yoga mom action in the evolution? Yoga moms unite.)
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