Teaching Kids How to Create a Safe Space

Even prior to the pandemic, mental health was the leading cause of poor life outcomes in young people, according to a public health advisory the U.S. Surgeon General issued in December (2021).

“With younger children, they’re not able to verbalize [stress], but they will display it in different ways, whether it be a push or a yell. That’s the only way that they know how to express it,” she said. “So our job is to equip them with the words, techniques and strategies that they can tap into to cope with whatever it is that they’re feeling,” said Karin Figueroa, Principal of Accelerated Charter’s South-Central campus.

“At the beginning, it was, ‘Yoga? What is that? What’s going on?’” said Nestor Alas, the school’s dean of culture. “Because they have this perception, this mentality, about yoga being like, ‘Oh, that is for other types of people. That is not for us.’”

A year later, Alas said, “kids are using the strategies in yoga to deal with stuff outside the classroom — any problem, any issue.”

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LA Times Photo Al Seib