Not Kidding Around: Goat Yoga Comes to Metro Nashville Public Schools
Madison Middle School
A Game On grant from Action for Healthy Kids brought a different type of excitement to Metro Nashville Public School Madison Middle School in Madison, Tennessee. The two major goals of the grant implementation were to increase physical activity and nutrition education, and students and staff really jumped on board with all things health!
To increase physical activity, students were given the opportunity to experience yoga…but not your typical yoga—it was goat yoga. Yoga is a full body, low impact physical activity that builds strength, tones muscles, and increases flexibility and body awareness. When adding goats to the mix, students experienced all of the above in a welcoming, low-risk environment with some adorable companions. When one student, Autumn Blaise, found out about the goats, she was so excited she made sure she was the first person to turn in her permission slip. Goat yoga has been an engaging way to introduce students that do not typically get a chance for physical activity during the school day to a unique way to move their body. Students were very attentive and focused for the yoga classes and learned new ways to stretch and strengthen their bodies.
In addition to increasing physical activity at Madison, goat yoga has helped students with self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, stress and anxiety relief, and emotional learning. According to Dornedria Joseph, the Community Achieves Site Manager, “Students learned cool yoga poses, but they also had to learn to trust their partners.” Each student leaves goat yoga with an elevated mood. Executive Principal, Dr. Brain J. Mells said, “We are extremely grateful for our students being exposed to various life experiences that they would not have received elsewhere. Through this experience, our students and faculty were able to bond together through an experience that none of them had been through before.” Blaise continues to encourage her peers to try goat yoga.
The second component of the grant was to provide health and nutrition lessons from school nurse, Cheryl Jack, RN, and their Coordinated School Health Specialist, Paige Trollinger. This focus is crucial for middle school students who are at an age when they are beginning to make more choices about how to fuel their bodies.
Nurse Jack met weekly with students to present various nutrition topics, including the how the digestive system operates, creating a healthy plate, and proper dental care. Trollinger built on those lessons with her presentation on reducing sugary drinks and consuming more water. Staff updated bulletin boards quarterly to remind students of healthy nutrition facts and tips. Nurse Jack said the bulletin boards were “a source of constant teaching for not only the kids, but the adults.”
One of the most talked about lessons was a visit from the Hill Family Farm. Ms. Hill shared her knowledge of running a farm and brought her blind chicken, Sister. The students loved getting to know Sister since many had never been to a farm before. During the presentation, Hill talked about where food comes from, selling produce, the responsibilities on a farm, and how to grow healthy crops (including a 15 lb. sweet potato that accompanied the lesson).
Nurse Jack discovered that nutrition is a subject with infinite teaching possibilities. Her hope is that “tiny seeds were planted in the minds of students and the results will be strong, healthy bodies and minds as they act upon the information received.”
Madison students have really embraced the healthy changes. Said Dr. Mells, “We thank you for selecting Madison Middle School for this opportunity, as I know our students will never forget the experiences learned this school year.”
This grant was made possible with funding from Cargill.