Every summer in Chicago, the news suddenly goes crazy with reports of shootings and flash mobs. But one Chicago mom’s answer to our city’s violence problem isn’t about increasing the police force or getting guns off the street. Her solution? Yoga.
“We’re trying to say that we aren’t a community of violence; we are a community of peace,” says Jennifer Robertson, founder and president of Chicago Kids Yoga LLC. “We should start with children and give them the tools and ability to find peace within themselves and with others.”
That belief led to #ChicagoKidsYogaFest, a free event held in the Garfield Park Conservatory, that will include yoga and meditation sessions, art projects, henna painting, a fire performance by Pyrotechniq, free food, and music. There’s also a business expo, a farmers market, and a quiet corridor for those with sensory overload.
Robertson says the event is meant to be inclusive, and you don’t need previous experience in yoga to attend. In fact, attendees can come in whatever clothes they’re wearing and don’t need to bring a yoga mat. And there’s no need to ascribe to a certain religious system, either.
“Yoga deepens whatever you come to the practice with,” Robertson says. “It honors people from all backgrounds and faiths and brings them together to find commonality.”
In this case, the common cause is teaching kids about peace and nonviolence. Robertson says studies show yoga increases test scores and confidence, and reduces bullying and violence.
“We need to give our young people tools to handle what’s going on in their lives,” Robertson says.
The conservatory is an ideal location for #ChicagoKidsYogaFest due to its position in an area where yoga isn’t widely practiced, as well as its beauty and ambiance, which align with the festival’s purpose.
“It’s a celebration,” Robertson says. “Chicago should be defined by something else other than crime.”
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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