Recently, I had the opportunity to meet a very impressive entrepreneur who has created an educational character that is now being viewed across the nation on Florida PBS and the Children’s Television Network which is the in-house station at children’s hospitals.
The most amazing part is that the creator of this project is only 13 years old!
Adam initially created the character of Wuf Shanti, a Yoga Dog for Kids, to promote health and wellness and encourage peace and positivity amongst kids.
Today, on top of being on television nationwide, you can find Wuf Shanti on YouTube Kids, its mindful mobile app, The Wuf Shanti Yoga Fun Machine, in their 7 books, and even in person at children’s hospitals and schools to share yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
In a few short years, Wuf Shanti has become a national success helping kids learn how to manage stress and cope with their emotions.
After the presentation, I spoke with Adam about what inspired him to take action.
His great-grandpa believed in a mindful mindset and taught Adam about positive thinking, kindness, diversity, inclusion, gratitude, and peace. Like many students across the country, he was angry and frustrated by the recurring school shootings he would hear about in the news, and he wanted to do something to stem the violence.
As childhood rates of depression, anxiety, and anger have been rising, he wanted to help schools do a better job of helping students cope with these emotions and traumas (and prevent them to begin with). Thus, he created this character and curriculum as a means of reaching kids when they are young.
Adam thought that if kids can learn the tools at an early age, then it will become an automatic response to stress and hopefully they will grow up to be less depressed and anxious as adults.
He told me that he is also concerned about the rise in bullying and suicide in young kids, and part of the Wuf Shanti training focuses on inclusion and kindness so that kids don’t feel so alone or isolated.
“We can’t keep doing the same things and expect a different result, so let’s try something new,” Adam told me.
Thus, the Wuf Shanti curriculum was born. Wuf Shanti videos, app, and books, were awarded the Mom’s Choice Award for “Best Family-Friendly Media, Products, and Services”, and Common Sense Media named the app in “Best Health and Games Apps for Kids”.
Why a Yoga Dog?
No one can argue with the fact that there is definitely a need for more positivity and compassion in schools and amongst youth. But those unfamiliar with Wuf Shanti are quick to ask where yoga fits into this mix.
“Many people believe that Yoga is about doing physical poses, but there is also a big mental component that is practiced ‘off the mat’ to help us have inner-peace,” Adam explains.
“It is about diversity, inclusion, kindness, and compassion. It is about self-love and love for others, no matter where they come from. Yoga and meditation are secular and are for everyone. The Dalai Lama said that if we can teach kids meditation, we will end violence within one generation.”
Additionally, science has shown that the “health benefits [of yoga, meditation, and positive thinking] include reducing stress, depression, anxiety, helping to manage anger and impulse control, increasing focus, concentration, self-confidence, respect for others, empathy, and helping the healing process by boosting the immune system.”
Together, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can also help students develop many of the life-skills that we talk about here on the site, such as confidence, esteem, and resilience, that can boost both academic performance, as well as well-being.
These multifaceted benefits are what make learning with Wuf Shanti such a powerful experience for students.
It also has personal significance for Adam, “I wanted to honor my great-grandpa when he passed away by paying forward his mantras of positive thinking, kindness, and gratitude to the next generation. Gandhi said that if we want to attain real peace, we should start by educating the children, so that’s what I want to do.”
Wuf Shanti has had significant expansion into hospitals and has now started touring schools as well.
If you’re interested in bringing Wuf Shanti to your school or learning more about how you can incorporate a “Coping with Stress” curriculum into your classroom, visit the official Wuf Shanti website for more resources or join them on social media.
Below you’ll find some great graphics that you can share with your kids or your classroom—
Originally published at blog.teaching.com