Our projects really started in a small fishing village in Nicaragua, when our Executive Director, Elizabeth, discovered what it means to take the yoga off the mat (and into the sand and on schoolyard playgrounds!).
In March, 2012, Elizabeth completed a 2 month project with 7 teenagers from a small fishing village in Nicaragua. These youth were encouraged to explore their world and express themselves through yoga, photojournalism, and local travel. On January 21st, the teens traveled with Elizabeth on three buses, 2 taxis, 2 tri-cycles and a lot of walking to explore the city of Leon – their first time in the big city! In February, the group climbed Volcano Conseguina.
The youth celebrated their completion of the program with a community slideshow and movie night. Over 70 community members showed up to support the youth and hear them talk about why they love yoga and their many adventures as a team. Learn more about these teens and the Nicaragua project on Elizabeth’s blog at http://www.elizabethauten.com.
Elizabeth has visited this community more than 16 times in the past 8 years since her first visit in 2010, building strong relationships with local teens and families. Since 2012, SYP has sponsored over 20 field trips for local youth and our volunteers have taught uncounted yoga classes on the beach, in the schools and at the local community center.
In July and August 2014, Elizabeth dedicated four weeks to teaching yoga to local youth, assisting with various projects in the community center, and sponsoring field trips. The Shakti group, as they teens call themselves, attempted a video project of some of their adventures, capturing their time spent interviewing staff at the turtle hatchery and touring museums in Leon. In August, 10 retreat participants from the U.S. joined Board members Christen and Elizabeth in surmounting the Volcano Conseguina with 8 Shakti youth. Piling into the back of a truck in the early hours of the morning with peanut butter sandwiches in hand for breakfast, the group made their way through rough terrain to the mid-point of the volcano. There, our trusted local guide Luigi led us by foot for the 2 1/2 hour climb to the top. What an amazing view and so worth the hard work! Along the way, the local teens practiced their English with their visitors, built friendships, and sang loudly one of their favorite songs until the whole group was singing along. That evening, the multi-cultural, multi-age and multi-language group of Nicaraguan teens and adults and teenagers from around the U.S. gathered together to soothe tired muscles with a gentle yin yoga practice. Through the following four days, the Karma Yoga Retreat participants continued to build relationships as they served food alongside residents of the Chinandega garbage dump, played soccer with the kids, led a beach clean-up with a prize for the winning team, and enjoyed amazing local flavors and fresh caught fish at every meal.
In August 2015, Elizabeth arrived laden with 50 pounds of donated books, the majority in Spanish. SYP sponsored the building of two Little Libraries to be placed in local “tiendas”, in an effort to support and encourage literacy and education within the community.
While our efforts are small compared to the incredible work and progress happening in the community of Jiquilillo, SYP hopes to continue to be a part of educating and empowering these youth.