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Support Youth Wellbeing by Expanding Options

Written by: Katrina Clark, Youth Educator
Note: This post was originally written for #WeeklyWisdom, a collaboration with the Community Coalition for Healthy Youth in Tompkins County.

The Advocacy Center’s student activism group, ACTion, is excited to announce a three-session, yoga-inspired collaboration with Erica Shockely, the founder of Open Flow Yoga Adventure. More information about this series can be found at the end of this article! 

In the hopes of providing youth with the tools necessary for an increased sense of wellbeing, many youth-serving organizations focus on prevention-based efforts. While wellness is not fixed, linear, nor standardized by any means; its presence can protect, uplift, and provide opportunity for movement towards an ever-expanding sense of health and safety – neither of which should be limited solely to its physical interpretation. 

This wellness undoubtedly ripples and reverberates throughout the community in small, but possibly snowballing ways. That is, a butterfly effect of sorts can be set into motion, which though likely immeasurable initially, can be immense in its power. 

Many prevention-based practices center on education, and more specifically, the relaying of information to youth in order to build awareness about certain behaviors and decisions that carry potential risk. While education is indeed necessary and of great importance, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the preventative value of community connections, social commitments, and other extracurricular activities. 

The support networks and skill sets that can be cultivated through these involvements provide youth with the potential for a real and rooted sense of empowerment. As this foundation develops, youth can begin to realize, as well as create, new choices that are more in alignment with their wellbeing. This ability to imagine potential choices is key, as it allows for a sense of freedom, as well as a sense of responsibility to self and others that can propel youth out of a cycle of perceived powerlessness. 

Unfortunately, influential factors such as systemic inequities, and the perpetuation of limiting belief systems, often make healthier choices entirely unimaginable and/or inaccessible to youth. 

However (and again), connections to community, support networks, and recurring involvements, can help establish an awareness of choices that were otherwise invisible – such as the choice to connect with a community resource, to touch base with a mentor, to transform one’s emotions through artmaking, or to discover the autonomy and strength of one’s body through movement! 

As the Advocacy Center provides programming, virtual events, and educational opportunities for youth, those who attend (or their peers and friends who may hear about it afterwards) are made aware of the general services our organization provides. This could be monumental for a student experiencing domestic violence – especially if they thought there was nowhere, or no one, to turn to for help. 

Of course, the pandemic has affected the amount and nature of these connective opportunities that are available to youth. Again, these opportunities are invaluable as they can provide youth with an expanded awareness of choices that are of greater service to themselves and the community at large. 

With all this in mind, our yoga-inspired series is a free, virtual opportunity aimed at supporting Tompkins County teens, and providing participants with a toolkit of mindful practices they can choose to exercise whenever they may wish. Commitment to all three Teen Yoga(ish) sessions is not necessary, and neither is any prior yoga experience! 

Please check out our full advertisement blurb below for more information about this series. If you have any questions about the sessions, or our student activism group, please reach out to Katrina Clark 


TEEN YOGA(ISH) SERIES: RELEASE TENSION   Thurs. Jan. 21st 7pm | Thurs. Feb. 25th 7pm | Thurs. Mar. 25th 7pm

Do you ever feel tightness in your shoulders, fogginess in your mind, and heaviness in your heart? Discovering mindful practices to counter life’s pressures is an act of resilience and can help us release these tensions. Join Erica, founder of Open Flow Yoga Adventure, for a three-session yoga-inspired series that will offer simple techniques to assist you in finding your balance, tuning into your strength, and stilling your mind. 

This is an introductory series, which means NO prior yoga experience is necessary for you to practice with us! Join us once, twice, or for all three sessions – no full-series commitment is required.

We understand that virtual sessions – especially those involving movement – can be intimidating to join, so if it makes you more comfy, please feel free to leave your camera off. 

All Tompkins County teens are welcome in this supportive space to playfully and compassionately connect with their mind, body, and spirit. To register for one or more sessions go to