As some of you already know, I have had the amazing opportunity of joining a wonderful team to work on a project that is very close to my heart: The Awake Youth Project (AYP).
The AYP provides mindfulness and meditation instruction to teens in Brooklyn who live in environments where violence, addiction and gang activity is widespread, to help them honor, accept and better process their difficult emotions. This in turn cultivates focus, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence while reducing stress, aggression, and addictive behavior: all elements that help them at school and with their personal life so that they can live life in accordance with their deepest aspiration.
Because of the success of the two-year standing AYP, many people are calling and asking for it to please provide its work to additional classrooms, suspension centers, leadership programs, and schools. In order to expand and do so, AYP came up with the idea of this sit-a-thon (think walk-a-thon, but this is sitting still in meditation for most of a day) to raise $40,000 that will support the project to continue its current operations and expand to new venues. I hope you can support the teens, the AYP team and me in reaching our goal and furthering this amazing program! Actually, the New York Times just wrote an article on AYP's peer-to-peer program: cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/in-place-of-detention-brooklyn-program-offers-troubled-students-inner-reflection/
Please read below if you want to learn more details about how the Awake Youth Project works.
In kindness and deep gratitude,
AYP works with teens in Brooklyn, either going to schools on a weekly basis or hosting weekly meetings and discussion groups at the Brooklyn Zen Center for secular teen-led meditation and mindfulness practice. The teens that AYP works with have important challenges and struggles: most of them live in financially stressed households in environments where violence, gang activity and alcohol and drug use are commonplace. This creates a tremendous amount of stress and feelings of anger, depression, and other destabilizing emotions as they search for an appropriate response for a world and society that is continually failing them.
By participating in the AYP, teens learn how to tolerate, honor, process and better manage their difficult emotions instead of falling into reactive behavior. It has been amazing to see the positive impact on the teens’ lives derived from partaking in the AYP programs: Most participants report a decrease in aggressive or violent behavior, a better ability to focus at school, increased compassion, and the ability to gain information from their emotions without difficult feelings operating as a launchpad for careless action. What could seem as such as simple practice has such profound effects.
I truly believe the AYP equips these teens with tools and skills that last a lifetime and that need of nothing external to tap into and utilize, simply their breath. I hope you can join us in fulfilling our mission.