Mindfulness garden for Joslin elementary

If you head out of our neck of the woods in East Austin, and head down to South Austin near Ben White and Machaca Road, you will come to a shady neighborhood where the kids attend Joslin Elementary School. Built in 1950’s, the school is named for Sgt. Jerry Joslin, an APD officer of 11 years to died tragically. If you read the school’s website, you will find that he was honored because he worked closely with school officials and students in organizing and directing safety patrols.

This week, Steven and Finlay and I had the pleasure of meeting Summer McKinnon, the Assistant Principal at Joslin. We were connected by James Buttler, AISD’s Mindfulness Specialist who works with the Social And Emotional Learning (SEL) team to help students cope with other aspects that may affect learning. SEL is a “process for helping children and adults develop fundamental skills for life effectiveness,” so because AISD is a recognized leader in urban education this aspect of taking care to develop the whole child is of utmost importance.

As you may know, Eastside Yoga has partnered with AISD to help provide support for schools who are trying to start a mindulfness program for their students and staff.  You may have even donated a cushion, yoga mat or some volunteer hours in the last six months as we helped bring yoga props and decor to Rodriguez Elementary or helped create the mindfulness room at Andrews Elementary. The first two school projects were quite different from each other: Rodriguez had a large unused portable building that teachers and parents had already remodeled and we just provided some finishing touches. At Andrews, we cleaned out the Assistant Principal’s office in order to make space for the mindulness room, painted the walls with a fresh green coat and made glitter bottles to help the children focus their minds.

There are so many schools who are in the participating in mindfulness in some aspect. It seems our task at Joslin Elementary will be quite different as well. Imagine an outdoor space, probably larger that the square footage of Eastside Yoga! As expected this time of year, there are some mosquitoes and some overgrown shrubs, as well as a smattering of invasive hackberry bushes. There are a few small benches, the start of a stone path/labyrinth and a few raised vegetable beds. There is a soggy area near the downspout of the rain gutter and some tattered picnic benches which could use some loving kindness.

Imagine further a vision put forth by Asst Principal McKinnon and some parents who have a pond shell … picture a pond with a shaded sitting area of benches and tables, some native heat resistance plants and possibly a path that can be used for walking meditation.
At Joslin, their mission is “to ensure that every student will demonstrate individual growth, development and academic success through a balance educational program…” Could this include meditation and mindfulness opportunities in a green space just outside their classrooms? We all hope so!

If you would like to help make this vision come true, please let us know by emailing eastsideyoga@gmail.com or join our Facebook event. Our initial plan is to have a work day in early August before school begins. We will first need to do some trimming of the greenery and cleaning up of the general area, possibly some sanding of the old paint off the picnic tables. We will need to clear the area and designate a location for the pond before identifying a pathway for walking meditation. This process should take several months before completion so your help is appreciated in the long haul : )

volunteers and garden tools/gloves
Equipment: lawn mower, trimmer
lawn and leaf bags
mulch and soil
paver stones
sanding equipment
home depot gift certificates

About eastsideyoga

your neighborhood yoga studio! with our warm welcome, peaceful vibe and experienced yoga teachers, we aim to transform the body and bring stillness to your mind through the timeless teaching of yoga. eastside yoga is a friendly community of people who love yoga and meditation. we strive to nurture beginners and help deepen your yoga practice. our yoga studio and class schedule are convenient for residents of the east side and downtown austin.
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