In December 2014, yoga academics Mychal Mills and Rodney Salomon started main month-to-month open mic nights at Kula Cafe in central Asbury Park, New Jersey. Salomon, a youth improvement specialist, and Mills, who was then working at an area food financial institution, needed to deliver collectively all generations of their inner-city group. At their first occasion, 15 individuals carried out for 70 of their neighbors, sharing poetry, music, and different artistic types of spoken phrase. “The theme of empowerment kept arising,” Mills says. “Open mic is a platform for openness, vulnerability, and healing—connecting all walks of life from 6 to 70 years old.”
Encouraged by the success of the open mics, Mills and Salomon based the nonprofit Konscious Youth Development & Service (KYDS) to succeed in extra youngsters. That summer time, they hosted a free eight-week youth collection referred to as Journey Summer Program for elementary and center schoolers. It included yoga and mindfulness practices, talks about healthy consuming, and artwork workshops. The objective: to assist youngsters higher handle their feelings and provides them a strong basis to grow to be aware leaders of tomorrow. Then in 2016, Salomon and Mills added meditation and sound-healing occasions on the café.
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The following yr, KYDS acquired a contract to be in the Asbury Park School District full time. KYDS now gives three tiers of packages, all of which can be found at elementary, center, and excessive faculties. All academics obtain Konscious Classroom training to develop their very own mindfulness apply and to discover ways to deliver these methods to college students. The second tier is a Mindful Moment room the place youngsters can meet with KYDS employees if they’re stressed or anxious. The room is designed to assist college students decompress by way of enjoyable sights (constructive quotes, a Himalayan salt lamp), sounds (water and seashore noises), and the odor of lavender from a diffuser. Lastly, KYDS presents an Alternative Learning Lab for college students dealing with challenges in or out of faculty and people with a historical past of suspensions. The lab works with the youngsters twice every week to assist improve their self and social consciousness. Students journal, paint, or write poems utilizing guided prompts and take part in group actions, corresponding to constructing bridges, which assist them shift from “me, me, me” considering to “we” considering, Mills explains.
On prime of these faculty packages, KYDS nonetheless holds a free meditation each Monday, free yoga twice a month, and an open-mic night time as soon as a month. “Although we focus on kids, we realize it can’t just be the youth, because they are going home to their parents,” Mills says. “We find it more effective when adults are learning the same techniques and tools to embody change.”
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Founders: Mychal Mills & Rodney Salomon
At a Glance:
- three,000+ youths reached in the 2017-2018 faculty yr
- 13 faculty districts served in 2017-2018