By Kristen Fritz

 

Adults participate in yoga to help reduce stress and to improve flexibility and posture. Now kids are using yoga as more than just a means of physical exercise, but as more of a lifestyle change.

 

While experiencing a dark time in her life, a local woman in Chicago works to help boost her children’s and other children’s confidence and ability to resist violence. Students at Nash Elementary School on the city's West Side are learning the principles and techniques of yoga through a program called Keeping the Peace, which is funded by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority and aimed at students who have a parent who is incarcerated, according to an ABC news article. Meghan Olson started the program as a way to give back from her experience.

 

yoga-children-health-kidspeace"My father was incarcerated in Puerto Rico. Our family had such support around us. I had always been involved with children on the West Side of Chicago and I saw the need there," Olson says in the article. "I see children who are shut down, mislabeled. I see children who are angry."

 

Students say the camaraderie of like-minded children and understanding adults offers invaluable support and help manage their emotions.

 

"I feel safer here and people can comfort you like when you feel sad and stuff. Like it was this one time when I was kind of sad then when I came in here everybody gathered around me and gave me a hug," seventh-grader Sania Franklin says in the article.

 

The program also helps keep them focused by following a different path.

 

"I feel that I should try to stray myself from doing anything wrong with an illegal intent and keep myself away from the gangs completely," eighth-grader Tyrone Fullilove, Jr., says.

 

Participants in Keeping the Peace also have access to individual mentoring and family counseling sessions in the evening.