Brief Program Description
Brief Program Description:
The Art of Yoga Project (AYP) is a non-profit organization that provides early intervention treatment and rehabilitation services to at-risk, incarcerated and exploited teenage girls in the juvenile justice system. A team of specially trained yoga teachers, artists and therapists teach this proprietary intervention program that promotes girls’ self-awareness, self-respect and self-control.
AYP currently serves over 500 girls throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The majority of program participants have a history of trauma from physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse and many have been commercially sexually exploited. As a result, many of the girls suffer from mental health challenges and exhibit anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and high-risk behaviors (including substance abuse, self-mutilation and unsafe sex. In addition, the young women lack a fundamental awareness of, and connection to, their own physical and emotional needs. For this reason, the Yoga and Creative Arts Curriculum incorporates health education, character development, physical discipline (yoga), mental discipline (meditation) and creative arts therapy to teach each teen girl how to: identify the issues that cause them to make poor choices; manage their anger and impulses; become accountable for their actions and develop a productive outlet for their emotions. Each session begins with a rigorous, strengthening yoga practice and continues with a creative arts activity.
Throughout the class, trained facilitators also lead discussions on themes such as tolerance, leadership, and non-violence. AYP’s creative arts help the girls, many of whom have significant mental health issues, to channel their emotions as ‘they can write, paint or draw about feelings and convictions instead of acting out with high-risk behaviors.
AYP also provides a mentoring program that connects AYP participants with positive adult female role models in the community. The Art of Yoga Project mentors support the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development of their mentees by establishing healthy relationships with them and by modeling a mindful lifestyle. Mentors facilitate successful reintegration into the community by reinforcing the tools that were learned for self-awareness, self-respect and self-control. The overall goal of AYP is to end the cycles of violence and victimization the girls are caught within and bring them to lives of empowerment and well-being.