Yoga, Mindfulness, and Meditation for At-Risk Kids

The Prospect Family Shelter in South Bronx, New York is using mindfulness, meditation, and yoga to help break the cycle of “intergenerational suffering.” An article this week in the Village Voice highlights a new program at the shelter aimed at helping inner-city children reduce their stress levels and improve their day to day lives through mindfulness.  Many of the children who participate in the after-school program do not have a stable home life. Instructor Bart Van Melik tells the Village Voice, “Some of the kids have seen violence, some are homeless, or they tell me they share a small apartment with a lot of family members and don’t have their own rooms. The program shows [them] how to relax, find peace within themselves, learn how to focus…”

The kids meet once a week for a discussion, yoga routine, and a meditation. The program offers a safe and nurturing place for these at-risk kids to clear their minds and, for many, find a peace that is unavailable to them elsewhere. Inner-city communities are notoriously chaotic and when children grow up lacking a stable and predictable home life, they can find themselves unwittingly re-creating that instability in their adult lives; a cycle Van Melik calls “intergenerational suffering.” 10 year old Jennifer says, “Sometimes I just want to be by myself… with nobody else around. When I try to do this at home, there’s all this noise. Everyone is always fighting with each other. There is no quiet space. I never get to feel this quiet. It helps me.”

The mindfulness program at Prospect Shelter is supported by a combination of state funds and the Lineage Project, a non-profit that encourages mindfulness to help at-risk youth cope with the stresses of their personal situations. Lineage provides yoga and meditation instructors to juvenile detention centers, schools, and shelters in New York City, with the goal of breaking cycles of poverty and violence. Read the entire article and learn how to support Prospect Shelter and the Lineage Project here.

All children can benefit from quiet time. Check out our selection of guided imagery and guided meditations for children below:

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