American children are experiencing extra-ordinary threats to their wellbeing and self-esteem to a degree that has never been faced. The perfect storm, arising from COVID-19, 40+ million unemployed combined with civil and social distress, is restructuring the rubric of our communities in real time. Children are growing up in an environment where their families, teachers and those who are traditionally responsible for providing their security appear to have limited control. The gravity of this situation is illustrated by a five-year old child who asked: “When will I go back to school?” “Will the virus kill me or my parents?” These innocent inquiries underscore the dire need for solutions that children, parents and schools can adopt to promote a sense of calm and stability. A simple solution may be derived from a millennia of knowledge of physical and mental skills training such as yoga and meditation. Learning to master these skills would enable dis-affected children to regain a sense of equanimity derived from the benefits of yoga. The magnitude of these benefits should be analyzed with a focus towards implementation on a national scale.
Given the current state of global affairs, we perceive an urgent need for robust interventions to help children cope through our society's transition into the next era. We contend that well established techniques of slow, calm, physical and mental activities yield positive short- and long-term impacts on overall wellbeing. Therefore, we contend programming to redress childhood trauma and ameliorate health inequities that provide a pathway to holistic wellness, and as such, portend a demand for rigorous scientific investigation. Hence, we hypothesize that practicing yoga techniques offer immediate cost-effective solutions that enable all to thrive.
Health disparities across racial and ethnic groups are based upon socio-economic factors. Approximately $35 billion are spent in excess health care and $10 billion in illness leading to lost productivity, while around $200 billion are spent in premature deaths. A concerted effort to reduce health disparities could have immense economic and social value.
Achieving health equity in social programs and increasing the value of educational and health care require changes to policies, systems, processes, and practices. Key steps to achieving these goals require access to wellness resources, creation of a framework for action, and an evaluation system focused on short-term and long-term outcomes in target populations.
Health equity is a core tenet of Nazakat Inc., aimed at developing sustainable solutions that provide opportunities to live the healthiest life possible. We propose alignment of our efforts with the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities an initiative within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health.
Our proposal supports the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities by advancing the health, safety and well-being of the American people; and aligns with the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity by improving health and healthcare outcomes for racial, ethnic and underserved populations.
We will incorporate programs to achieve a reduction in health disparities. The comprehensive selection process identifies at-risk populations through analysis of readily available demographic. data. Pre-determined measures and pre-assessment of quality of life factors will be assessed against the selected population. This information will be used to design the proposed solution.
In many ways, education and health are inextricably linked. Improved educational status is linked with improved health care, but there is more. In the tradition of perennial wisdom, education was meant to manifest the latent powers of the intellect, necessary for a holistic approach to health. Today, education is skewed to a materialistic culture and needs to be re-written to express eternal values and new ways of thinking in consonance with the intellectual, moral, and cultural climate.
A fresh approach promoting mindful introspection and a practice of self-regulation are needed. This new paradigm focuses on behaviors through management of stressors and overall mental health and factors that impact cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual dimensions of wellness. As students are encouraged to think simultaneously with contradictory and complementary ideas and to creatively use intuitive faculties, free from dogmatic thinking and radicalization leading to improved social health.
There are fundamental flaws in the way our nation created the educational system, frequently fostering low self-esteem and self-awareness. The unintended consequences often cause children to be perceived as “different”, causing their quality of life to suffer. The practice of yoga brings about harmony in health that is optimally achieved when one is poised in their center of being. Restoration of harmony is achieved when working through a consciousness-based paradigm where modern and complementary therapies are relevant.
Establishing yoga programs in schools requires the development of strategic alliances, working with educational systems, health care institutions, academia, and state, local and federal agencies. The integral attributes of yoga bring awareness to all demographics and can be instrumental in educating at-risk populations. We can share the playbook that leads to beneficial outcomes showing a step by step process to achieve better health, and knowledge to facilitate lifestyle choices and greater self-advocacy.
Yoga works through a paradigm of integral health and holistic well-being. In this model, different therapeutic systems act at different levels of awareness. They need not contradict each other, but can be placed along a continuum or spectrum of consciousness. Yoga techniques then help to shift to deeper realms of awareness to correct the inner disharmony that lies behind the disequilibrium caused by stress and illnesses. In this way, yoga can help manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, chronic stress, malaise, grief, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder. An enlightened perspective of yoga can generate opportunities to facilitate a holistic model of health.
Grant support will also be used to fund the independent evaluation. A key purpose of the effort is to acquire scientifically rigorous knowledge about if, and how much, the intervention makes children’s lives better than they otherwise would have been. The evaluation design is a pre-post assessment with a randomized control group, and multiple reliable outcome measures of physical, mental, academic, social, self-esteem, and quality of life changes – including assessing potential benefits to families, teachers and the community. The sample is envisioned as 200 students within one large metro area, including urban and rural districts, ranging in ages 5 to 13.
Our goal is to increase wellness through yoga and meditation via research-supported programs. Grant funding will support an assessment of the target population, providing insight to the proposed program. To support the efficacy proposed by this program, it will be designed and structured to be easily replicated to scale across regions. We anticipate additional contributions, pending approval of this proposal.