For years, Utah State University student Karli Ludwig has studied and enjoyed the benefits of yoga. This past semester as a Community-Engaged Scholar, she wanted to bring that enjoyment and knowledge to others, forming Community Engaged Learning after-school programs in Logan and Cache County for elementary aged students ages 5-12.
“My purpose was to educate these young students on the benefits of the various forms of movement while giving them exposure to activities they may not otherwise have had the chance to experience,” Ludwig said. “I hoped this would help foster confidence, expression, social skills, communication, collaboration and fun to those willing to participate.”
Ludwig, a kinesiology major with a yoga minor, developed the curriculum as part of her yoga course work. From the knowledge she learned in her yoga course at USU, she was able to plan, develop and then implement a 10-week curriculum that includes movement and mindfulness practices offered through yoga asana. The curriculum was designed with easy-to-follow instruction suitable for children in elementary school.
After designing the course, Ludwig worked with USU AmeriCorps program executive and coordinator Todd Milovich to offer the course as an after-school program at various elementary schools who expressed interest.
“I became interested in working with the after-school clubs once I joined AmeriCorps and was exposed to the lovely program built in all these elementary schools around Logan and Cache County,” Ludwig said. “I was introduced to the students in the after-school clubs and fell head over heels for them. I wanted to give them the opportunity to learn about the things I was learning in school and introduce them to my passions.”
During her 10 weeks of teaching, Ludwig worked at several elementary schools, teaching classes that averaged between 15-20 students. She received great feedback from both participants and school administrators.
“I never thought yoga could be this much fun,” said Gerardo, a fourth-grade student at Ellis Elementary. “I’ll have to show my brother. I bet he’ll think it’s cool.”
Seranoni, a kindergarten student at Bridger Elementary said, “Yoga is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
Through her work, Ludwig found immense satisfaction working with youth and teaching them something that means so much to her. She was impressed with how willing many of the children were to try the new activity. She hopes the skills they learn can help them explore yoga more fully, or at least use the breathing techniques to achieve calm when they are faced with stress.
“These elementary children have such a desire to learn new things,” she said. “They are up for any challenge or task you put in front of them. My goal was to spark the interest of young and willing minds to explore something they had never previously experienced. I hoped that this might ignite a fire in them, make them want to explore it further, or even just take away a simple breathing technique they can use when feeling overwhelmed.”
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