Local mom teaches kids yoga in response to spike in teen suicides

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A local mom is doing what she can to fight teen suicide in her community. Over the last few years, Colorado Springs Academy School District 20 has seen an alarming amount of teens take their own lives.

"When that happened of course as a parent I'm trying to think of, 'What can I do to help this problem?' And I think we're all searching for answers," Kimberly Wilson said.

Wilson is a certified yoga instructor and mom. She says yoga changed a lot for her life and she thought she could teach children the same "mind-body-connection" concepts that have helped her and adults everywhere.

"Yoga really tackles everything from the inside out," she said.

You might not think fourth and fifth graders have a lot to be stressed about, but they say otherwise.

"A lot of kids have stress these days, like pressure for school and work," said Karli who is in fifth grade.

For about one hour once a week at the Da Vinci Academy School, the kids take that stress and channel it through yoga.

Wilson tells 11 News she planned out a 12-week program and pitched it to the principal hoping the class would act as a proactive approach to mental health.

“Over the past four years, Academy District 20 has experienced an unusually high and undeniably tragic number of student deaths, largely as the result of youth suicide," said District 20 spokesperson Allison Cortez.

In the last three school years, 14 students have taken their own lives.

"During the 2015 to 2016 school year alone, nine students from across the district died as the result of teen suicide. The most impacted school was Discovery Canyon High School," said Cortez.

"I don't believe that yoga's the answer to this, but I believe it is a tool that we can use," Wilson told 11 News.

And so far, it seems to be helping with the kids' stress.

"It relaxes me from my brother. He is really stressful to me so it kind of just calms me down throughout my body," said fourth-grader Mckenna.

Kaelyn says so too, "It helps me calm down when I have frustrations or worries and it's very fun and relaxing."

The kids do typical yoga poses including warrior one and two, airplane and mountain pose. They also journal and talk about what's going on in their lives.

Many kids say that's what they like best about the class, how Wilson listens to what they have to say.

"She is really kind and she listens to our thoughts," said William.

"She will actually stop and listen, not like most other classes that you would go to that they would not stop and just listen to you," Kaelyn agreed.

Victoria says yoga helps with her emotions.

"You don't have all that anger if it's stored up in you. If its sadness, it just goes away whenever you're doing this."

She continued, "I'm guessing I want to spend the rest of my life doing this. It's really fun."

In her free time, of course.

As for the yoga program, Wilson says she eventually hopes to expand it to more grades and schools.