Tuesday, March 15, 2011

YES for juveniles - A success story

Recently, Art of Living Austin volunteers had the privilege of teaching our first ever YES course at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center.

It all started during Christmas 2009 when some of the volunteers decided to celebrate the season of giving at the correctional facility. What caught their eyes was how much the kids there could benefit from yoga and meditation. Thus started the free yoga once a month at the facility. They consistently conducted yoga throughout the year 2010. As and when new volunteers started signing up to lead yoga sessions, the frequency increased to once a week. The kids at the center loved yoga, and the supervisors realized the benefits too.

So, when Usha told the supervisor that they can conduct a YES workshop that would benefit the kids way more than the yoga, the supervisor readily agreed. After a few weeks of negotiations on the course timing and other logistics, the course was scheduled for February 18-21st. There were a lot of first things in this course:, it was the first course under the banner “Prison Smart” for Art of Living Austin; it was the first ever YES course taught in a detention center for our teachers too.

For Usha, the biggest hurdle was not getting volunteers lined up for the yoga sessions or finding teachers for the course, it was getting time on the superintendent’s calendar. Thanks to the persistent efforts by volunteers like Katie, Sanjeev, Lakshmi, Sridhar and their “never say no” attitude leader Usha, the course became a reality. It probably is a tiny step for the Art of Living Foundation and a big first step for Art of Living Austin but I am sure it was a giant leap for the 16 kids who participated in the 4 day program.

This time around the course was taught for the male population of the facility. We hope to conduct a similar workshop to the rest of the facility very soon. We will report back on this blog when that happens

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