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Meet Lake Forest Academy

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

“There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.” -Nelson Mandela

Since the spring of 2022, Yoga Village has offered a Trauma Sensitive Yoga program at Lake Forest Academy for all of the students in grades k-8. Your help is vital for this program to continue. Donate to Lake Forest Academy here.

LFA is a combined elementary school and day treatment facility specifically for children who have behavioral difficulties that do not allow them to be successful in a traditional school setting. This school provides the final safety net to ensure that these vulnerable children do not slip through the cracks. The children at Lake Forest Academy are incredibly strong. At their young age, many of these students have experienced more hardship and trauma than the majority of adults will in their whole life, and they are surviving! Our program celebrates this strength and survivorship, and we also ask “Is surviving good enough for these children?” Their trauma is often what brings them to LFA, but it is our goal to ensure that this trauma is not what defines them.

Lake Forest Academy Facts:

  • 85.7% of the students labeled “Economically Disadvantaged” (2x the average NC school)

  • >5% of the students are performing at grade level for mathematics or reading

  • Often food insecure

  • Suffer from a variety of challenges in terms of the social determinants of health

A Gratitude tree that the children made from natural materials and wrote people and things they are grateful for.

Their daily life at LFA can be chaotic, disrupted by regular de-escalations and behavioral interventions. They are a deeply concentrated group of the most highly vulnerable children in the school system, and they are underperforming. In most cases they have been told that there is something wrong with them, that they are “bad kids”. It has been drilled into them overtly and subconsciously that their behavior defines them. But we know better, so it’s time to do better.

What we know:

  • Behavior changes in children are often a direct result of the trauma they are experiencing in their everyday life

  • Children who are survivors of acute or complex trauma suffer continual, and often life long health effects, putting a strain on our healthcare system and continuing to perpetuate harmful trauma patterns through generations

  • Trauma Sensitive Yoga is one effective way to return a sense of autonomy and increase feelings of compassion and empathy in children

  • Secondary trauma or trauma exposure response drastically increase the level of burnout and turnover in teaching and counseling

  • Fostering an opportunity to allow the staff, at all levels, to decompress and learn the same self-regulating techniques as the children creates a common language that continues to integrate these skills into the ethos of the school as a whole

  • Including staff in the program sends a message that they are valued and that their mental and physical well being are a priority to their school as well as their community.

Our facilitators can see the difference this program has made in the lives of the students first hand, but don’t take our word for it. Here are some quotes directly from the students and staff:

“The facilitator maintained a calm, comforting environment and taught our students skills that they continued to use in the classroom to calm themselves when needed. We are very appreciative of the time you have invested with us. It has made more of a positive, lasting impact than you may know.”

“The children really enjoy it and look forward to it. I believe the program is run well. I hope the program continues next school year. The facilitator is very knowledgeable and the kids' faces light up when they see the facilitator arrive to do yoga with them. She shows patience with the children. The children learn new coping skills to assist with dealing with their day to day triggers. My kids love downward dog and rainbow yoga. When they get upset they ask permission if they can do yoga to calm themselves.”

“She was very kind and understanding. She was on time and consistent. My students look forward to yoga weekly. They sing the songs by memory and they use a lot of the techniques they’ve learned.

“The program allowed the children a space to slow down and experience calmness outside of a crisis or attempt to de-escalate. Understanding you can be peaceful and it’s a choice.”

“It was a wonderfully structured activity that taught my students valuable kinesthetic and social skills that they can use for a lifetime. For many it is something they would never experience if it wasn’t here. I would absolutely love for this program to continue at our school.”

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