Yoga for kids school program relieving stress

29 January 2015

It’s not just adults that have to deal with anxiety and stress of everyday life – more and more school children these days are also feeling the pressure to perform in today’s fast-paced society.

Local Lakemba Public School, using a $3,200 donation from Canterbury League Club, has set up the Yoga for Calm Kids program to help school kids develop the necessary skills to effectively deal with their stress and poor mood.

Under the program, students aged between nine and twelve are offered weekly yoga and meditation classes with a qualified yoga instructor. The classes are held during recess for the duration of thirty minutes and participation is completely voluntary.

“In disadvantaged communities, such as Lakemba, levels of stress are higher than in other areas. Regular practice of yoga can help individuals to cope with anxiety, stress and poor mood. By developing body awareness through the practice, children can learn how their thoughts and emotions are tied to how they feel physically as well as develop some strategies for coping in stressful situations,” said Wendi Etherington, Local Facilitator from Lakemba and Wiley Park School as Community Centre (SaCC).

Yoga teacher, Despina Rosales, tailors her sessions appropriately focusing on strength and balance for boys, and calmness and flexibility for girls. These special classes have proved extremely popular, among both boys and girls, numbering between 35 to 40 participants at some sessions.

“Those who have fully committed have shown a definite improvement in the physical skills of flexibility, balance and core body strength. Many have stated that they practice at home, so the transference of skills learnt at school is very encouraging,” said Etherington.

“In the boys group, many of the attending boys have language disorders with associated anxiety issues, and we have noted a positive change in their mood. One girl, who was previously refusing to go to school, has had no absences since the program started which is a very pleasing outcome. Parents have been supportive and have encouraged their children to participate.”

Before the program, the school had limited capacity to support children experiencing stress and anxiety with a school counsellor on-site only one day a week. The introduction of this program has better-equipped the school to tackle the issue of anxiety in children from an earlier age and is expected to benefit approximately 120 children throughout the coming year.

“The issue of anxiety and stress among school-age children is rife in our local communities. It is important that they are addressed in a swift and effective manner before the negative effects of stress affect their learning at school,” said Dr George Peponis OAM, Chairman of Canterbury League Club.