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Virtual meditation to help kids cope with COVID-19 isolation

Posted at 6:14 AM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 20:06:00-04

MILWAUKEE — After more than a month since the Stay At Home order was placed, negative thoughts could happen to anyone.

Wisconsin is facing record unemployment, with nearly half a million people filing claims. As a result, bills are piling up with people struggling to receive benefits. All the while, we're isolating at home, alone with our thoughts.

One local group is taking the task of bringing hope back to the youth of the community to make sure they really are safer at home.

"A lot of stress is attached to our realities," Shalina S. Ali, Co-Executive Director of True Skool and creator of the Art of Coping said. "If your body is constantly functioning from stress, you're going to have issues like high blood pressure, your body is going to physically react in a way. You're constantly in that fight mode. That's not healthy."

Ali created the Art of Coping to give kids a way to express themselves. Through meditation, art and creative writing, the kids and teens are able to learn new methods to relax, show their emotions and feel heard.

It was initially created for kids dealing with everyday stresses but it's taken on a whole new meaning now.

"Are young people struggling?" Ali said. "Of course they are. They're in the most social aspects of their lives right now. The Art of Coping is having daily practices so you can feel joy more often than trauma."

Through five, half hour classes held online, Ali coaches her kids through meditation practices. She also provides them with homework to be completed before the next week's class.

She feels these practices will help them stay focused and not dwell on negative thoughts.

"My concern is hopelessness and not knowing exactly where to go," Ali said. "Being alone, sometimes, will allow your mind to wander into places that are a little dysfunctional. We've all experienced different trauma in our lives. We don't know how they'll surface for a young person. Giving hope offers opportunities for young people to engage in ways they may not even know exist."

Ali shows the kids how to breathe and relax. Using words of affirmation along the way.

"I am deserving. I am capable. And, I am OK."

Through these words, she feels the kids are able to step out of the COVID-19 world of isolation they're in, even for a brief moment. It also lets them step away from any added stresses they have from being stuck at home.

"Usually, we act out on those closest to us," Ali said. "We want to prevent that from being the response; the physical or emotional response."
And, through two weeks, she's already seeing impacts.

"To keep young people's minds exploring, wandering and learning," Ali said. "That kind of activity just naturally leads to a sense of hopefulness."

The videos will be posted on True Skool's YouTube page. Ali hopes people will be able to revisit the videos whenever they need a boost.

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