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‘May I Be Happy’ Screening to Discuss Mindfulness For Kids

Nancy Alkire Nancy Alkire ‘May I Be Happy’ Screening to Discuss Mindfulness For KidsYouth Yoga Project in action. Courtesy Youth Yoga Project and GIVE Yoga.
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“Teaching children how to cope is one of the most important tasks we have,” noted Julia Handelman of the Youth Yoga Project. To further mindfulness in education, on Saturday, March 23 “May I Be Happy” will be screened at Studio 35 with proceeds from tickets sold going to the Youth Yoga Project’s programming.  

“We are trying to reach children and give them coping skills before there is damage done,” said Handelman. “We want to have a conversation about when and what we can teach kids during their day. We want to change the way feelings and behaviors are talked about and responded to in schools.  Just like you teach kids how to handle math, you need to teach children how to calm down and focus.”

Local librarian and yoga teacher Julie Standish said, “I wish I had discovered yoga and mindfulness before I went through middle school! I am very glad to hear about this work in Columbus.”

Since starting the Youth Yoga Project in Spring 2017, Handelman and Laura Greenspan have been conducting mindfulness and yoga classes for educators and youth in the central Ohio area. Their programs may fulfill schools’ physical education and character-building curriculum requirements. One of their programs in Lancaster uses yoga in place of detention.

“We wrote a yoga curriculum that provides students with a framework for processing and handling their emotions, and strengthens their ability to focus attention,” said Handelman. “We are also doing after school programs in Lancaster as well as Broadleigh and Central Community House on the East side of Columbus. These are funded by our fundraisers.”

“May I Be Happy” is a 79 minute documentary on mindfulness in children’s education. Filmed in multiple schools, juvenile detention centers, and other locations in the Bay Area, it shows educators and students both dealing with the stress of American life and how people bring mindfulness to the children. Multiple positivity and coping strategies are shown in the film. “May I Be Happy” has been screened in multiple films festivals including Ojai and Barcelona. It won the “Eye Opener” award at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2017. Handelman saw the film this summer while leading yoga training in Los Angeles.

After the film, there will be a panel discussion with local educators, healthcare professionals and community leaders who are leading mindfulness work in central Ohio. Veteran Columbus educator Dr. Rodney Harrelson and assistant principal Lori Mesi of South-Western City Schools, as well as yoga teachers Celia Shanahan, Shannon Taylor and Julie Wilkes will be on the podium. Wilkes recently led a program on teaching yoga to the incarcerated at the 2019 Arnold.

“Yoga is not just a pose you see in a cool photo,” said Wilkes. “Yoga is being able to connect your mind and your body. When these connect, you find more resiliency, strength and confidence in your life. I am honored to be a part of this panel.”

100% of the screening’s ticket sales will fund Youth Yoga Project’s programming in central Ohio. “We hope that people will join us and discover more ways to help our students persevere in our changing world,” says Greenspan. “All are welcome.”

For more information on Youth Yoga Project, visit youthyogaproject.net Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse is located at 3055 Indianola Ave. Tickets to the screening are $10 and can be purchased on Eventbrite.

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