One Chicago woman is giving back to the at-risk youth in her community in a very unconventional way.
After only a year of yoga training, Tameka Lawson decided to bring the popular practice to her Englewood neighborhood to bring residents closer together.
"There are lots of elements causing these youth to have stress,” Lawson told the Huffington Post. "We want to get at the center of these youth and give them a moment to breathe in a way that will change the way they react and process things.”
As the executive director of I Grow Chicago, a non-profit organization based in Englewood, Lawson partnered with five schools to offer yoga classes for young students looking to cope with the stresses of their environment. Students are not only introduced to a new practice, but art therapy, motivational speaking, mentoring and job skills are also incorporated into each class, Lawson said.
"This is one approach to something that doesn't have many," she told HuffPost, referring to the neighborhood’s struggles with fans, poverty and violence. "We're taking an approach to get people active, to get people calm and to get people to feel again. A lot of people are desensitized to the gun violence, to the fact that little boys and girls are dying on the street and that's not normal. We all have to learn to feel again."
The growing popularity of the lessons spawned free community yoga classes held regularly on a blocked-off stretch of street, as well as free monthly classes at a local cafe and the first-ever Englewood Yoga Fest.
"If we can prevent one 8-year-old from growing up to become a person who could potentially pick up a gun, we've succeeded," she said. "We don't have the answers, but we're trying to come up with creative solutions.”
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