Eleven years ago, Erica Rumpel decided to learn yoga. What
she learned changed her life and became a passion she is now
passing on to youth in Humboldt Park.
Rumpel, a psychotherapist and owner of two yoga studios in
Chicago, received a $1,315 grant last year from Scholastic Media to
provide holistic health services in underserved parts of the
"It was something I'd wanted to do and I was developing a
plan, and then this grant landed on my desk," Rumpel
It didn't take her long after receiving the grant to
create a youth outreach program at Urban Lotus, her Humboldt Park
She also added parent training on stress management and
self-care programs for local mental health professionals. All of
the programs are free.
Although yoga for kids was a tough sell at first, the
program has grown.
"The community is mostly Latino and they might not be
culturally familiar with this," Rumpel explains.
The youth program not only helps children age 12-17 learn
yoga, it also focuses on body image and self-confidence during a
developmentally awkward time, Rumpel says.
"When you go into a yoga studio and you're sitting on the
floor, the barrier is gone," she says. "It's comfortable and you
start to move like everyone else and it provides a format and a way
in to talk about some other issues. …It's a way for youth to be
heard, as well as to learn and develop confidence and
For the parent training, she hired an instructor fluent in
both English and Spanish.
The parent training sessions provide a forum for the
community to come together while learning yoga, breathing
techniques, meditation and other ways to handle the stress of being
Although the grant money will only last six months, Rumpel
hopes to develop other revenue streams to keep the programs
"I've made up my mind; it's continuing," she
For more information on the yoga programs, visit www.urbanlotuschicago.com.
The American Family Insurance/BE BIG contest is open to
kids of all ages, teachers, parents and community leaders to submit
a "big idea" for a chance to win a community grant of up to $25,000
from the BE BIG fund to implement the idea. This year's deadline to
enter the contest has passed, but look for information in the
future on next year's contest at scholastic.com/bebig.
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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