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Newark Public Schools

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Creating a change one child at a time..

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives” Clay P. Bedford

Debby Kaminsky creates the Newark Yoga Movement..Bringing Yoga practice to the public school in Newark NJ

Inspire. Empower. Teach. Respect. To be present. These are the mantras of Debby Kaminsky as she guides her students through their yoga sessions in the public schools of Newark New Jersey.

Debby Kaminsky had a vision. The vision was to introduce yoga to the students in the Newark School system as a way to help them reach their full potential both academically and personally. “I believe that everyone can benefit from yoga.

Students in Newark School system will enhance their mind-body connection through yoga and that is exciting to me.” Debby Kaminsky is the founder, and innovator of the 501c3 non-profit organization, Newark Yoga Movement (NYM), whose mission is to bring yoga practice twice a month to all 41,000 students in the 73 schools of Newark Public Schools system Newark NJ is the largest city in the state of New Jersey, educating the largest amount of students.


With the support and endorsement of Dr. Clifford Janey, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools and Cory A. Booker, Mayor of Newark, Debby envisions Newark Yoga Movement becoming a model and inspiration for the rest of the country. The proposition of bringing change to this urban population through yoga practice to help increase focus, confidence, creativity and peace to students is quite powerful and inspiring. 

In the spring of 2009 pilot testing began and Debby introduced yoga to 300 students in two high schools and one middle school in the Newark Public School system. Additionally, Debby taught yoga at one charter school and an independent school, St. Phillips Academy. This is no ordinary independent (private) school as it is an all green school that has applied for LEED certification

 

Sussex School Student.. photo by Lauren Rutten..

The pilot program sample size was large enough to classify research results as quantitative (171 students responded to the questionnaire). Highlights of the research revealed that 71% of the students are eager to continue with the yoga program after being introduced to it and 64% were more relaxed and less stressed after just one 20-minute session! One student summed it up by saying “It would make my life good because I can be relieved from all the stress that I go through and wouldn’t be as depressed.”

Debby has worked with some of the best in the field to put together a Newark Yoga Movement sponsored Kids Foundation 20 hour teacher training that will be open to yoga instructors, volunteers, Physical Education teachers and regular teachers. The training will offer tools, strategies and more to help with children not only in schools but also at clubs and other kid-oriented organizations live life to their fullest potential.

“I saw first hand the difference that the yoga and breathing made in the high school students at Shabazz High school this fall. Even the students that were skeptical in the beginning couldn’t help but focus and become engaged with the poses that were introduced to them. The quality of the deep cleansing breaths that they were instructed to take and release during the session was magic. The pure, relaxed look on the student’s faces during savasana (wind down time) was rewarding and inspiring to witness.”To read the full blog about my experience at Shabazz High School please go to www.lovepeaceyoga.com.

“I am truly in awe at what is going on in this school. The other day an 11th grade boy stopped me in the hall and said ‘hey, namaste’ as he brought his hands to his heart,” according to Kaminsky.


Debby has worked tirelessly with Newark Public School (NPS) officials to create an evolutionary program that will see this mission come to fruition. With the help of dedicated yoga teachers in the tri-state area, Debby has been introducing this inspiring program and vision to teachers, parents, caregivers and board of education members to show them the difference yoga can make in a person’s life. She has given a yoga experience to the majority of the 170 physical education teachers in the NPS and has their consensus that yoga is a real positive force for the students.


Manduka, the eco-friendly yoga mat company has graciously donated some mats and offered others to Newark Yoga Movement at a discount. Newark Public Schools now has 300 brand new Manduka yoga mats being used by students.  www.manduka.com

Sussex students getting ready for a successful day at school

Debby’s model for yoga teachers isn’t exactly using them on a volunteer basis. “I believe in what I call paid seva, says Debby.   Seva is the Sanskrit word for service. Yoga instructors who go into the schools with their endless patience, all receive dollars to cover their expenses and a little of their time. By doing this, it makes the entire process feel organically complete.”

A donation of $30 will help sponsor up to 60 kids in a yoga class. Debby estimates that an average donation of $5000 will allow a NYM program to be present in a school for the entire year. NYM yoga instructors teach all students yoga twice a month and then either the PE teachers or regular teachers supplement. 98% of the donation goes directly to Newark Yoga Movement and 2 % goes to administrative costs. The donations will help Newark Yoga Movement hire more yoga teachers to teach and increase the number of schools and classes made available to the program.



Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. From teachers to writers to web designers and “mirrors”, (children can learn a pose by watching a volunteer creating the pose). Debby welcomes anyone who wants to volunteer and join in helping this dream become a reality.

Debby Kaminsky & Jill Friedfertig at Shabazz High School

Debby Kaminsky has been passionate about yoga since 1997. She has trained under the wonderful instruction of Shiva Rea and many other wonderful teachers in the yoga community during her endless yoga journey. She is ERYT, holds two advanced certifications from Shiva Rea, including her 500 hour prana flow teaching certificate. Debby sits on the Executive Board for Kula for Karma, which is another fantastic non-profit organization that provides free yoga to those less fortunate and is the “Peace Igniter” who brought together 33 Yoga studios in the New Jersey/NY area to celebrate Global MalaNJ 2009.

Newark Yoga Movement became an official non-profit organization April 17, 2009 and is eligible to requests grants from the State to help fund such a worthwhile program.

“I am so honored to be a part of wonderful transformation. My hope is to give our future leaders of our country additional tools in their “tool box” to have for life. Further, I want to truly inspire others to create their own ‘yoga movements’ in their city,” says Kaminsky. “I completely agree with Gurmukh, one of NYM’s board advisors when she says that yoga is the answer to world peace.”

Other NYM board advisors include Shiva Rea, Peter Sterios, Dr. Clifford Janey and Mayor Cory A. Booker.

Want to Donate?  Want to Volunteer?

New teacher training program for Newark Yoga Movement is in the works now..   Go to www.newarkyogamovement.org for information!  Challenge yourself to make a difference..

Jill Friedfertig is a freelance writer and innovator and founder of www.lovepeaceyoga.com an organic place to network and share information with yogi’s around the world.

If you have a great story about how yoga has changed your life please submit your story to jill@lovepeaceyoga.com

 

photo credits: Lauren Rutten Photography

www.laurenruttenphoto.com

www.newarkyogamovement.org

www.lovepeaceyoga.com

www.debbyoga.com

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