CINCINNATI -- Aiken High School’s special needs students begin their day with a half-hour yoga class, preparing for classes with a uniquely accessible form of exercise that encourages practitioners to calm their minds and develop a greater sense of control over their bodies.
"The kids seem to get a little bit calmer afterwards and during," intervention specialist Ann Callahan-George said. "They're responding very well to it."
Callahan-George’s students live with both cognitive and physical disabilities that range from moderate to severe, she said. A yoga class, which might help quiet racing thoughts and encourage greater awareness of one’s body, seemed like a good fit for Aiken’s program when it first occurred to her.
Thanks to a donation of yoga mats from community members and Principal Lisa Votaw, Callahan-George and other members of the special education program finally introduced it at the start of the 2018 school year.
Aiken is far from the only school to offer yoga as a mind-and-body fitness option for students with disabilities that might make other school activities more difficult. Yoga for the Special Child trains teachers across the country to lead classes that "help the world’s special children achieve their full potential," according to the program’s website.
"I think it should spread to other schools, most definitely," Callahan-George said.