Staff practice yoga, mindfulness before school

Staff practice yoga, mindfulness before school
Posted on 03/21/2019
Staff practicing yoga

Staff at Karner Blue Education Center start their Tuesdays and Thursdays together for round of what they call "mental release and stretch," a wellness activity that includes mindfulness, gentle yoga and stretching.

Ryan Buycks came up with the idea as a way for people who work in separate areas of the school to  build community, relieve stress, and ultimately support each other in a healthy way. "People used to just sit in their cars in the morning before school starts," Ryan said. "This way we can all come together and find some peace before a hectic day."

Annika and Ryan posing with yoga mats

"The same kind of community building that happens in a happy hour also happens in our mental release & stretch," said Annika Larson, one of the coordinators of the group. She credits Ryan's role on the CARE team with giving him a unique perspective on what students and staff at Karner Blue need to be successful.

Ryan believes that supportive community activities like this can improve staff retention. "We have a strong group of staff here, and I want to make sure we stay strong, physically and mentally." Ryan said. "That's what this is all about."

Ryan and Annika hope that this can open the door to other activities, like kickball, especially when the weather gets nicer. For years, staff were not permitted to engage in physical activities like this in school buildings. Now, with the assistance of some helpful guidelines and waivers, staff have more flexibility in the types of activities they can do before and after school.

Staff who attend at least four sessions can count their participation as "funding fulfillment," a well-being activity that, along with completing a health assessment, helps staff qualify for healthcare savings in 2020. This is part of the school district's effort to support staff as they pursue their well-being goals more independently, rather than through district-wide activities like Survive the Frost.