On March 15th, Ashiyana and The Moving Children Foundation invited the children of local children’s day care centre Shishu Bhavan to Mandrem for a ‘Fun Day’ of beach, yoga, dance and play. It was an incredibly special day, which none of the participants will soon forget.
The Moving Children Foundation, founded by Ashiyana Yoga School graduate Laura Kool, is a wonderful initiative that raises awareness to support movement for children around the world. Moving Children believes every child needs to move and that movement through yoga, dance and play can make a significant contribution to a child’s physical, social, cognitive and emotional development. The foundation initiates projects in areas where learning through these forms of movement can greatly improve children’s lives.
Ashiyana is very proud to be partnering with Moving Children to work with several schools and orphanages in Goa and beyond, to help provide sustainable movement programs for local children, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
One of these schools is Shishu Bhavan located in Arpora, a 40-minute drive south of Ashiyana. As the name translates; ‘a safe and loving place for children’, the centre supports children (age 4-6) from local slums with education, nutrition, hygiene, and basic healthcare.
Throughout this season, Laura, with the assistance of some of the other Ashiyana family members, led a weekly class at Shishu Bhavan, whilst working with the teachers there to develop an on-going movement program for the children.
Fun at the beach
At the start of our Fun Day, 36 children and 5 teachers of Shishu Bhavan arrived by minibus to Mandrem, where we met on the beach. Under the supervision of swim teachers Chris Byng Connell and his team, the children had a great time playing in the sea and games on the beach. A few children had never been on the beach before, and seeing their thrilled faces made us feel overwhelmed with joy.
After their exciting morning on the beach, the children enjoyed some fruit and drinks kindly donated by Dunes Holiday Resort, before jumping back in the minibus to make the short trip to Ashiyana.
The children and staff of Shishu Bhavan were greeted at Ashiyana and shown to the Open Shala, where Laura, Ashiyana staff, our TTC students, friends and volunteers were waiting for them, ready for class. We had kept the day a secret from our teacher trainees as a special event for their Graduation Day, so the excitement was felt not only from the children but from everyone involved.
With the assistance of the teacher trainees and Ashiyana teachers, Laura led the children through a 45-minute class themed on the elements of nature. We learnt how to connect our breath with our movement. We played at being dragons and breathing fire. We stood frozen still like mountains. We moved through the space like wind and rushing water. We danced like raindrops and floated like balloons. We practiced mandala sun salutations, animal yoga poses and joined in pairs for partner yoga. We took turns to give each other little massages and ended the class in a peaceful savasana.
It was heart-warming to see how everyone responded to the class. So much happiness, laughter and delight. At the end of class, the children sang a song to thank us for this special day.
At the restaurant, everyone came together to enjoy a special lunch, prepared by our kitchen team. As it happened to be the birthday of one of their teachers, there was also cake, ice creams and lots more singing.
Our kitchen manager, Rathi, on behalf of Ashiyana, gave each of the children a pencil case filled with stationary. Our reception dream team, Nelson and Glarmin, also gifted the children with paper and pencils for their schoolwork. All gifts were greatly appreciated by the Shishu Bhavan school team.
Time to go!
With very full stomachs and super smiley faces, it was time to go. After hundreds of hugs and even more photos, we waved goodbye to the yellow minibus and its precious passengers.
The day was more of a success than we could have ever dreamt of. Not only did it have a massive impact on the children, most of them do not often get a chance to see more of the world than their home area, it also brought our staff; their staff; volunteers and helpers from all around; our TTC students and guests together. It was a day to remember and definitely a day to repeat many more times.
Visit the Moving Children website if you would like to find out more about their initiatives, other projects and how you can support the incredible work that they are doing.