Believing in Forgotten Youth

PAIGE ELENSON

Africa Yoga Project, Kenya      

THE PROBLEM

In Kenya, health programs tend to focus on epidemics such as HIV and Malaria, but little attention is given to mental health despite the devastating impact on the individual and society at large. In addition, 78% of Kenya’s population is younger than 35 years, with over 70% of these people unemployed. There is a major gap in services and jobs in community trauma healing services.

 

THE SOLUTION:

Paige Elenson has created the African Yoga Project, a replicable model that empowers young Kenyans in urban slum areas through yoga. This model strives to improve health, create jobs and develops young leaders in their communities. AYP’s core activities on a weekly basis include: meditation, self-exploration through inquiry, performing arts as a vehicle for empowerment, health education, relationship building, and community activism. AYP teachers engage with prisons, schools, special need centers, HIV/AIDS support groups, schools for deaf people, and rural villages through yoga sessions.  

 

THE CHANGE:

 

300 free classes per week in 80 locations

100 yoga teachers trained and employed

6000 people empowered weekly

250,000 Kenyans empowered every year

 

 

LESSON LEARNED

Be Inclusive. AYP believes in the potential of youth regardless of their records, their economic and family backgrounds.

Receive, Learn, Give. Youth are accepted to the program to change themselves and also to be instructors within their community networks. The instructors are encouraged to start their own yoga classes, work with AYP or travel across the country and organize teaching sessions in prisons, schools and other communal locations.

Expand Opportunities for Young Leaders. Through its Handstands, Hugs & Highways program, AYP takes its young instructors on a U.S yoga tour, which allows them to expand their experiences and raise fund.

 

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