Elementary school in Denver replaces detention with yoga

An elementary school in Denver has done away with detention, and is hoping inner peace may help prevent students from acting up.

You know how it goes – a student acts up, they get detention. But at Doull Elementary School in Denver – detention just didn't work.

“It wasn't really changing kids' behavior. It was a place for them to be for an hour, but we found the same kids were coming back, kind of making the same bad choices over and over and the same kids were returning to detention,” said Carla Graeber, the school psychologist at Doull.

So staff there decided to replace the desk with a mat, and punishment with practice.

“We decided to try this idea of offering yoga reflection instead,” Graeber said.

So that trip to the principal's office is now a trip to Trinidad “Ms. Trini” Heffron, the school's yoga instructor.

“They are always open to practice, to play. We can get loud and we're quiet, and then we practice in poses, and we sit down and we rest, and we meditate,” said Ms. Trini. “And they've been using the practices that we learn here in the class.”

And that's the goal, to teach children new social and emotional skills.

“Learn how to calm down, learn how to control their anger, learn how to breathe, learn how to take a minute to stop and think before acting,” said Graeber.

“It's been a success. It's just they enjoy it, they are using the tools, they have their emotions but at least they know what to do,” added Ms. Trini.

It's been so successful, Doull had to add another class.

“Other kids wanted to practice yoga, but of course they didn't want to get in trouble to be here so we started the Wednesday yoga club,” Ms. Trini said.

And as the practice and her students grow, Ms. Trini wants to the practice to blossom with them.

“It just fills me up with love, with hope, and it makes me humble because I see them and they're amazing, every day I don't know what to expect,” she said. “I hope to see more reflection or other practices like yoga or meditation, you know, sports instead of detention, instead of a punishment.”

Doull was one of seven schools awarded a grant to help create a program or service for students.

School officials chose yoga.

They will offer it to students through the rest of this school year and all of next year.

After that, officials will look over the data from the two years to see if they will continue the practice, which the school will then have to fund itself.

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