An unconventional way to handle kids' stress
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Starting a new school year can be stressful for any household. From schedules, friends to homework routines, children can quickly take on anxiety. Some brush it off and move on, but others need a little guidance.
Meditation and children may not seem like they go hand in hand. But Angela Gala thinks they do. She co-founded "Youth Meditation, a non-profit that teaches kids to understand and cope with their anxiety.
"Some childrens' life experiences are so chaotic they aren't even aware of how angry, how sad, how stressed that they are. All of this creates overwhelming emotions that they don't know what to do with and they don't know how to focus," she said.
We met Gala in a classroom on the first day of school at Rebound Academy in Rock Hill. She sat at the front as students timidly formed a semi-circle around her. Rebound is an alternative school that offers many kids their final chance to get an education.
Gala went around the room asking the teens what causes their stress. She then asks them to close their eyes and follow her breathing techniques.
"Some students are here because they have experienced some trauma in their lives. They come here sometimes after working and they have a full plate. And they're just learning how to balance all of it because their lives when they leave here don't change," counselor Lynn Hathcock said.
Youth Meditation also offers paid private lessons. Maria Levy's 9-year-old struggles with anxiety.
"For instance, when he gets home with simple homework sometimes he just will tell me he's not able to do it," she said.
Levy says her child always struggled with sleeping at night, but she's seen a change in him since starting meditation.
"He seems more happy but I think the big word for meditation is awareness," she said.
There is an endless list of thoughts and problems that can quickly overtake a child's mind. But the people who've tried meditating with Gala believe she holds the key to coping.
"When you learn how to meditate, it gives you clarity," Hathcock said.
For more information about Youth Meditation, visit: youthmeditation.org.?
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