Off the Beaten Path: Macomb County Students Learn Yoga, Tai Chi Through Pathways Efforts

Macomb County Students Learn Yoga, Tai Chi

Pathways to Potential efforts in Macomb County have become a pathway to alternative health practices among high school students.

With the goal of reducing classroom stress and helping students "keep calm," Pathways success coaches launched yoga and tai chi for students at two high schools earlier this school year. In doing so, they collaborated with Karen Urquhart, MDHHS Community Resource Coordinator, to develop, promote and recruit for the meditation programs.

Pathways to Potential is an MDHHS program that places success coaches in schools and other facilities to help students, their families and others overcome barriers to success.

Earlier this year, success coaches Holly Edleston and Mark Heitman initiated yoga classes at Mt. Clemens High School, and most participants have reported it has taught them techniques to help them reduce anger and stress.

One student commented: "Yoga helps me get through my day in school. It changed my whole mind set. It relaxes me," and a student athlete commented that yoga helps "with my attitude and staying positive" and "helps me stretch out and helps my body overall." One ninth grader reported that "yoga taught me how to keep my mind straight and keep it on the right track."

School principal Joseph Gibson said the results are encouraging.

"Teachers of the students attending the yoga class (have seen) terrific changes in these students, many of whom have demonstrated self-defeating behaviors such as poor anger management, impulsiveness, and low self-esteem for several years," said Gibson, adding that program is helping students who otherwise could not afford yoga classes.

A tai chi program at Lincoln High School launched by Pathways success coach Denise Gunn also has seen success. She worked with school staff and partnered with tai chi instructor Peter Beswerchij from Motor City Tai Chi to develop the after-school program.

Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has become a graceful form of exercise that many use to alleviate stress and address other health conditions. An 11th grader reported that breathing techniques he learned in tai chi helped him pass a test that he had anticipated failing.

Congratulations to the Pathways staff on such an amazing education effort!