LITTLE SILVER – Red Bank Regional High School has found a unique way to help students transition from 8th grade to high school – yoga.
During RBR’s recent Summer Slam, a four-week program for incoming freshmen to prepare them for the high school experience, Rodney Salomon and Mychal Mills from Konscious Youth Development & Service (KYDS) taught students how to manage stress through yoga. KYDS is a nonprofit youth organization in Monmouth County that “prepares and creates future leaders through holistic interventions,” according to its website.
Salomon and Mills asked the students what is stressful about high school and received a variety of answers, from schoolwork to friendships to upperclassmen. They then shared coping skills like mindfulness and breathing, and conducted several exercises to bring the group of students closer together.
The students learned to physically lean on one another in pairs and as a group, standing in tree pose – a yoga position requiring balancing on one leg – and supporting one another in a contiguous circle.
The instructors also conducted an exercise called “real live social media.” Instead of “liking” something on a social media app, the students were asked to say something positive about another student or to give an in-person “like.” One by one they crossed the room to deliver a well-received compliment to a new friend.
“Doesn’t it feel so much better to get likes in person?” asked Mills. “This is more personal and more vulnerable since you are putting yourself out there,” he said.
Salomon and Mills hoped their exercises planted a seed for the students to grow these practices in their daily life. They likened the skills taught to an anchor giving a sailboat stability in a storm.
“They know how they feel today,” said Salomon. “They know what their potential is and what is possible. There are so many things out there that can peer pressure them. We hope we showed them that they have the power inside to handle any pressure or obstacle that comes their way, that they have that anchor within them.”
Summer Slam is operated by the RBR SOURCE, whose mission is to remove all obstacles that impede a students’ academic success.
The program includes instruction in English, math, history and science, with teachers also concentrating on social skills and team-building exercises.
Freshman Academy and SOURCE supervisor Suzanne Keller said, “The KYDS program was a perfect opportunity to introduce our students to these wonderful stress-reducing techniques and practices.”
More than 110 students from RBR’s three sending school districts of Red Bank, Little Silver and Shrewsbury attended the program during the month of July.
This article was first published in the August 10-17, 2017 Back to School edition of The Two River Times newspaper.
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