In 2011, our community yoga studio, Hosh Yoga in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, partnered with a local public school to start an afterschool yoga club for students. Six years later, Hosh Kids has shared yoga with over 15,000 children in Brooklyn School District 14 and every child at that region's PS 196 benefits from yoga today. Hosh surely showed up, but the cooperation of everyone at the school and the district leadership of Superintendent Winnicki were paramount.
We all recall the deep love and respect we had for certain school teachers growing up. They are ambassadors of hope lifting the spirits of school children and shaping minds to do great things for people, country, and planet in the decades to come.
...we can choose to be the hope and optimism that schools, our lives, our communities, and this world deserves.
Principal Janine Colon and Assistant Principal Debbie Casey gave Hosh a chance many years ago. They epitomized community leaders and education pioneers that excel in cultivating good community work that makes a difference for hundreds of children, parents, and teachers. Infusing their school with fun and joy is at the core of their programming, creating timeless moments and experiences for their school as they navigate the deep challenges of academically and emotionally educating children to lead healthier and happier lives.
This week they hosted their Oscar Celebrity Teacher Appreciation Day, where teachers came dressed to be awarded the best look-alike of stars such as Ellen Degeneres, Jennifer Lopez, Charlie Chaplin, Cher, and many others. And our contribution to their school community for many years has been to infuse and reinforce their commitment to community life by helping teachers, students, and parents move better, think better, and feel better through yoga. The spirit of wellness is all over their school building, and it transcends academic outcomes. They are truly a community center of social, academic, and emotional learning.
Kate Liberman, wellness teacher at PS 196, best describes the school environment as "family-like." A statement that speaks to the spirit of the school on daily basis. And at this teacher appreciation luncheon, I sat next to two retired community women who put their civic heart and love to action every week and give a helping hand to the endless tasks that go into running the school.
Organic and local love and support applied daily are the essential ingredients of any community—it's how we heal systemic and generational wounds and can lift the hopes and spirits of those immersed in decades of low-income and underserved disenfranchisement in poor communities. It can't and won't simply be the many times studied, measured, and imposed paternalistic approach of exterior charity and higher orders. But no help is ever turned away at PS 196 as long as it is a guaranteed good time for staff, students, and parents!
This example teaches us that we can choose to be the hope and optimism that schools, our lives, our communities, and this world deserves.