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The Holistic Life Foundation has piloted a yoga/mindfulness instructor training program with the youth that have graduated through their after school and mentoring programs. With the demand increasing for HLF programs, they were in need of new instructors. That set of youth has 10 years of experience practicing yoga and mindfulness, and have experienced HLF’s programs first hand, giving them a firm understanding of HLF youth development and youth engagement principals.
The training started with a weeklong retreat at Drala Point, a remote retreat center at 3,500 feet in elevation in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Use of the retreat was graciously donated to HLF by Harry Tate and the Shambhala Society. Days started with a pre-dawn yoga session, then classes on yoga and mindfulness practices, teaching nuances, safety, anatomy and physiology, and HLF youth engagement philosophies. In Baltimore, the youth attend training classes two evenings per week, after the Holistic Me after school program, to enhance and reinforce their skills. The youth involved in the program are currently helping teach classes at the HLF after school program and will be assistant teachers at the HLF yoga and mindfulness training at the Omega Institute in June of 2013.
In its third year, the Workforce Development program provides yoga and mindfulness facilitation training, as well as long-lasting personal and professional mentoring opportunities for youth. The program is designed to ensure ongoing support to youth from underserved communities. In addition, by providing former members of the Holistic Me and Mindful Moment programs with continued training, the Workforce Development helps ensure the sustainability of the organization by preparing future generations of skillful and compassionate yoga and mindfulness facilitators who are dedicated to working with underserved populations.
In 2014, HLF’s founders took ten Workforce Development participants to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Over the course of a week, the group planted ¾ of an acre of crops for local farmers, cooked their own meals using local produce, and camped out: all while “unplugged.” Participants were provided with active instruction in yoga, personal development, and social and environmental responsibility; thereby, developing a comparatively stronger sense of the interconnectivity of life and their role as community role models and engaged citizens.
HLF Workforce Development participants are making a significant impact on communities across the country. During the summer of 2014, two HLF Workforce Development members resided in Charlottesville, Virginia where they spent two months facilitating yoga and mindfulness classes for children at the Boys and Girls club. 300 children participated in their classes. To ensure sustainability, HLF’s Founders traveled to Charlottesville, where they instructed 15 local residents, aged 18-20, in their methods of yoga and mindfulness facilitation.