Ngaanyatjarra Lands School Project
Empowering Mental Health and Physical Wellbeing
in Remote Aboriginal Communities
About the Project
Supporting Aboriginal Youth with Tools for Life.
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” ~ Confucius
Dedicated to improving the mental, physical and social health and wellness of Aboriginal youth, The Ngaanyatjarra Lands School Project seeks to introduce Yoga and Mindfulness practices to students and the wider school community. The unprecedented project will equip teachers and staff across the eight remote Western Desert Ngaanyatjarra Lands School campuses with training, curriculum and ready to use mindful movement lesson plans to further their skills, knowledge and confidence in teaching Yoga and Mindfulness in the classroom and beyond.
School staff and educators will be empowered by Yogazeit’s four-week pilot program, which draws on yoga techniques and culturally appropriate mindfulness tools with the aim to increase self-awareness, physical and mental health, and supporting the ability to self-regulate behaviour, de-stress, relax and unwind for students and staff alike.
Yogazeit launches Pilot Project, supporting the remote Aboriginal School Community of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands School with Yoga and Mindfulness, customised to meet their needs.
Consultation with Aboriginal Elders and School Staff supports the development of unique, culturally relevant resources and curriculum to empower sustainable Mindfulness and Movement practice.
Executive Director of Yogazeit, Regina Cruickshank, hopes to support long-term benefits of Mindful Movement, such as emotion regulation, dealing with stress and anxiety and healthy body and minds for students and the wider community. This is not just some Yoga School Program – these are skills for life.
Tim Thornton, School Psychologist says “If we can embed the Yogazeit skills in our school, we have the potential to make a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of people of the Ngaanyatjarra lands.”
This Pilot Project includes a customised curriculum, training of school staff, yoga and mindfulness classes for students and staff and community yoga yarning circles, fostering storytelling and sustainability beyond project end date.
Strength-based Approach: Customised Curriculum
A 2020 report revealed that Aboriginal people experience depression (52%) and anxiety (59%) at much higher levels than non-Aboriginal Australians (32% and 47%)*.
Indigenous People in Australia (and elsewhere) experience a disproportionate burden of disease and mortality – an inequity that is rooted in centuries of colonisation by European settlers – which is ongoing and not just a historical process (Smith et al 2020).
This situation has resulted in a loss of traditional ways of living, creating situations that promote poorer dietary and lifestyle choices and reduced health for Indigenous People (Murdoch and Flowers 2019).
Thus, in acknowledging these inequities, it is important for the Yogazeit Team to adopt a strength-based approach of examining and enquiring, rather than a deficit or problem-based approach (Ryder et al 2020: 10; Drawson 2017).
Following in-depth consultations with Daisy Tjuparntarri Ward – a respected elder of the Warakurna community, the Ngaanyatjarra people of Western Australia and the Ngaanyatjarra school staff and community, Yogazeit has developed a customised curriculum that reinforces mindfulness in young people and facilitates the promotion of mental health and physical wellbeing.
Due to the remoteness of the communities and the people moving between schools over the school year, it was important to create a curriculum that could be introduced and maintained across all campuses.
“We’re very honoured to have been invited to visit the Ngaanyatjarra Lands School and to share our knowledge about Mindfulness and Yoga for school communities. We’ve spent the past few months to develop a culturally relevant curriculum that includes traditional language and respects the traditional owners, customs, and the land on which we walk. It’s the combination of body, mind, breath and country and really very unique in its approach.”
~ Regina Cruickshank, Founder and Executive Director of Yogazeit
“To us, health is about so much more than simply not being sick. It’s about getting a balance between physical, mental, emotional, cultural and spiritual health. Health and healing are interwoven, which means that one can’t be separated from the other.”
Healthway, Act Belong Commit, Fair Game and Here to Be are partnering with Yogazeit as they launch a unique West Australian project in some of the most remote communities in Australia.
Yogazeit’s outreach Volunteer Team for this project consists of:
- Regina Cruickshank, Founder and Executive Director
- Amy Murray, Educator and Curriculum Support and
- Sharnell Avery, Outreach Programming Coordinator.
Getting Ready to Visit Ngaanyatjarra Lands
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We rely on funding and program support from individuals and partner organisations who believe in us and help guide our programming and initiatives.
Yogazeit is a registered Not for Profit organisation and Health Promoting Charity with DGR status (Item 1).
All donations over $2 are tax deductible.
Yogazeit is registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission and is supported by a very experienced executive board and advisory committee who dedicate their time and knowledge.
At Yogazeit, the core of our trainings is evidence-informed Curricular supported by our experience in and feedback from Australian Schools and Communities.
Since 2018 hundreds of Educators, Health Professionals, Parents and School Communities across Western Australia have embraced a Yoga and Mindfulness philosophy, supporting physical and mental Health and Wellbeing for the Young and Young at Heart.