Naples, FL (April 17, 2020)
With 73 beds for children and teens ages 6 – 19 that have been removed from their home due to abuse, abandonment, neglect or are homeless, Youth Haven has been offering yoga classes on its therapeutic campus since November 2013. The classes are taught by volunteers Gina Monteiro, Victoria Moore and Skylar Rosas. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Youth Haven closed its campus to all outside visitors but found a way to continue its weekly yoga session through virtual classes. The virtual classes allow the instructors to provide positive insights and guide the students into proper pose alignment with verbal cues and on-screen demonstrations.
Many of the children that arrive at Youth Haven are traumatized, in need of immediate counseling and a place where they feel safe. Our Yoga program is an extension of our therapy program. All classes include breath work, guided relaxation, positive affirmations to replace negative thinking, and yoga postures for balance, strength, flexibility, and focus.
The classes are fun and age appropriate. In a recent virtual class for our elementary school-aged children, the teachers wore silly hats and practiced bunny breath, bumblebee breath, snake breath, and elephant breath together. Yoga class should be a fun time for them and the instructors encourage them to express themselves creatively in class.
When asked why it’s important that they continue with the yoga classes during this time, Gina Monteiro responded, “We feel that yoga is a practice, and one must continue the practice to evolve. We share with the students that when we are on our mats we are practicing respecting ourselves as well as others. On our mats we are practicing the choice for peace, love, positivity, and courage. In yoga we choose connection and community instead of fear and separation. The world is practicing isolation right now, but isolation does not need to mean separation. We come together to practice as a community, and if that means going virtual to continue our yoga together then we are all for it!”
“Our children and teens have been severely traumatized and we strive to provide them with a sense of normalcy in their lives,” said Jinx Liggett, Youth Haven Executive Director. “We’re so grateful that we have found a way to continue our yoga classes virtually and our volunteer yoga instructors are committed making this transition successful. Yoga is such an instrumental part of our therapeutic campus and our kids simply love the classes!”
If you have any questions, please contact Laura Lafakis at 239-687-5175 or Laura.Lafakis@youthhavenswfl.org.
About Youth Haven
Youth Haven, a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, is Collier County’s only residential emergency shelter for boys and girls ages 6-18 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Youth Haven is a COA nationally accredited organization, a member agency of the United Way of Collier County, a Naples Children and Education Foundation grant recipient, and has been in continuous operation since 1972. For more information, visit www.youthhavenswfl.org, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and Instagram.