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Refugee students practice yoga and mindfulness at the IRC

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Through a partnership with Centering Youth—a nonprofit yoga service initiative that brings yoga to vulnerable communities—the IRC in Atlanta has successfully incorporated regular yoga and mindfulness practice into both our adult and youth education programs.  

Adult yoga class at the IRC in Atlanta.

Adult yoga class at the IRC in Atlanta.

Photo: IRC Atlanta

Twice a month, instructor Sumayya Allen has been offering yoga classes to the students in our Adult Education programs, one class for women only and one open to all. The Centering Youth instructors are trained in trauma sensitive yoga techniques and aim to provide participants with tools to gain self-confidence, focus their attention and manage their emotions. So far, reviews from clients are positive all round; the only complaint is that they want yoga class more often! The classes have been running since February and provide a way for adult students to relieve stress through gentle movement and meditation.  

During the school semester, Centering Youth instructor, CeeCee Weeks, introduced yoga to the students in our Clarkston High School New Roots program, offering biweekly classes outside in the high school garden. It was a new experience for students but they enjoyed it, especially when they could do yoga on a clear day in cool weather. New Roots Coordinator, Katie Hiebert, said, "The teacher, CeeCee, was fantastic in her ability to cater to the students' needs and she really created a welcoming and healing space for everyone to feel comfortable and engaged."  

Enjoying yoga class in the Clarkston High School garden.

Enjoying yoga class in the Clarkston High School garden.

Photo: IRC Atlanta

AmeriCorps Adult Education Associate, Talya Krumholz, has also noticed the positive effects: "Students who choose to participate in yoga look forward to it each time it's offered, and report feeling very well after class," she said. "As a teacher, I've noticed improved focus and energy in English class on the days we do yoga. Recently, participants have been asking Sumayya about which yoga poses they should do for different injuries and they always have questions about the various movements." 

The IRC in Atlanta is grateful to Centering Youth for providing this specialized yoga instruction for our clients and for donating a generous supply of yoga mats to the IRC. We would also like to thank IRC volunteers Cat Le, Jeta Surman and Angela Yoo who also donated a generous number of yoga mats, and volunteer Catherine Day who recently donated a box of yoga blocks to further our students' yoga practice.

To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.

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