Tensions are high, no doubt. But who knew yoga would be the bridge for connection and understanding? OK maybe a lot of us could imagine it. But thinking it and seeing it happen are two completely different things. We were surprised to hear about this undercover yoga operation and so happy to learn it helped to ease some tensions, and maybe even prevent some in the future.
The Crossroads School is an alternative school providing educational and social/emotional services for 7th-10th graders in the Baltimore, MD area. The school offers yoga classes as part of their curriculum–with homework and everything–which is pretty progressive in and of itself. But when they had local police officers join the class, that’s where the magic happened. And by magic, we mean people coming together without preconceived judgement.
“The idea was just to improve relationships and to have students and officers get to know each other as people,” Emily Fleming told CBS Baltimoreof her 7th grade yoga class.
But they had to be a little sneaky about it.
Last fall, five police officers were invited to Fleming’s yoga class which they attended twice a week all semester long. At first, they mixed in as students yogincognito style, wearing workout gear. After becoming regulars, they showed up one day wearing their uniforms and shocked all the kids. The response was priceless, but also bittersweet.
“I learned that not every cop is bad,” student Brandon Waller told CBS Baltimore. “You know, you have a lot of good cops out here.”
This is a heartbreaking statement, but it reflects the reality for many kids who have witnessed friction between the police and their communities, and perhaps had run-ins, personally.
The yoga class helped to break down a wall.
“You get to know someone for who they are, not what they are,” student Reagan Jennings said. “They’re very friendly.”
As for the officers, they were happy to have made the connections, too. “Every time they see me they give me a big smile and a big handshake. So. It’s very awesome,” said Officer Juan Minaya.
The officers also expressed interest in continuing their yoga practice. We hope they’ll invite the whole squad to join in.
Watch the report from the CBS Baltimore affiliate: