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Fernbanks Yoga Kids Make National News
by DeKalb County School System
...along with core subjects like math, language arts and science, educators also teach yoga poses like the peace breath...
Two years ago, teachers at DeKalb County School System’s Fernbank Elementary may have never envisioned that students closing their eyes during instruction would be acceptable, but today, with the inception of a program called YogaKids International, doing just that is not only allowed—it’s also encouraged. At Fernbank, along with core subjects like math, language arts and science, educators also teach yoga poses like the ‘peace breath’, ‘polar bear’ and ‘Raggedy Ann & Andy’, thanks to YogaKids Tools for Schools.
On Wednesday morning, a NBC Nightly News crew with national news correspondent Bob Faw visited Fernbank to take a peek at the unique program—a phenomena that seems to be quickly spreading the nation.
YogaKids Tools for Schools began in 2005 at Fernbank as a pilot program before it was published as a nationwide initiative. The program, designed to support existing core curriculum and standards, allows teachers to easily incorporate yoga into the classroom without additional workload. Amy Haysman, a former middle school teacher in Gwinnett County who has practiced yoga for seven years, co-wrote Tools for Schools and trained Fernbank teachers in yoga instruction.
“Yoga helps oxygenate the brain and blood system; it helps with posture, fitness and digestion. Tools for Schools is not a program meant to coddle children, but it empowers them to better control their behavior and have a clear mind for decision making,” said Haysman of the program whose slogan is ‘Breathe Life into Learning.’
A study conducted in January of this year by Purdue and Indiana Universities found that YogaKids Tools for Schools has a significant positive effect on classroom achievement, general health, student relations and personal attributes.
School nurse Mollie Fenlon said she even uses yoga’s deep breathing techniques to help children calm down when they visit the office upset. Fenlon also added that her 11-year-old daughter who also attends Fernbank loves yoga and it helps in her practice of ballet and modern dance.
Fernbank parents and teachers collaborated to write a wellness initiative grant that awarded the school $5,000 to fund training and materials for Fernbank educators. As of now, 15 teachers have received full training with 25 more to receive training in the near future. Additionally, Fernbank offers a free after-school yoga club instructed by Cheryl Crawford, a co-writer for Tools for Schools whose triplets attend Fernbank. Crawford also served as a yoga trainer for Fernbank teachers.
YogaKids International was developed by Marsha Wenig and a team of educators and therapists. YogaKids Tools for Schools is available to any school with interest. Funding is often provided through grant writing or PTA sponsorship.
The segment, filmed Wednesday by NBC Nightly News, is likely to air in the next month on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams show.
© DeKalb County School System