Inclusion and Tolerance with Mindfulness

Imagine a world where children only see one another as equals.

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Tina LeMar founded Sheltered Yoga and its mental health and diversity training approach because she knew what it was like to be bullied and made fun of growing up. She lived with trauma and suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia because of her experiences in her youth. Yoga, mindfulness, and meditation saved her life. She is now paying it forward by teaching her evidence based, trauma informed curriculum to children so they may live a productive and happy life, free of fear.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • New Jersey

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Mercer County

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • New Jersey

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Trenton, Hamilton, Ewing, Jackson, Newark, Camden, Philadelphia

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Bullying and Intolerance among children is increasing rapidly in schools, communities, and through social media. Many children have no effective tools to help them deal with the fear and anxiety that comes with bullying and intolerance. There are many programs that teach mindfulness and yoga to help children cope but most are not successful or not taught in communities of color and severe poverty. Sheltered Yoga's Core Curriculum works!

Sheltered Yoga's Core Curriculum focuses on raising self-esteem and self-worth among all children.  Lack of self-esteem is the largest undermining problem across cultures and communities.  Every unit plan we offer incorporates tools to build a healthy and strong self-esteem.  Our curriculum is incredibly unique in that it uses a Howard Gardner approach in each lesson plan so children, learning in all different ways, will be captured and engaged. It also couples these learning styles with an interdisciplinary structure within each lesson plan.

We have been implementing our curriculum in day programs, transitional housing facilities, foster homes, and alternative schools.  Not only does it work effectively but we are able to engage the toughest and most challenging children- ones living with high levels of trauma, poverty, and mental and physical barriers.  Rider University Statistics, Teaching, and Psychology Departments have been analyzing our evaluations and creating accredited outcomes for our organization. The success of our curriculum is in the data.  

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

A fantastic example is an amazing young lady named D. (Using an initial to her identity) She is a 11yr old that suffered through such high level trauma it was impossible to think she could ever feel good about herself. When we met D. she had been raped by her addicted father, bullied in school, made fun of daily and jumped on the street by her peers. She participated in Sheltered Yoga's core classes for one year when she told us about her successes. She said this...“Thank you Ms. Tina, this class helped me lose 10 pounds. Don’t I look great?”, “This class also helped me learn to stay away from drama and negative people”, and “This class helped me feel better about myself. I stick up for myself now. It’s cool.” It is all we could ask.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The outcomes below are from our most recent analysis from Rider University. It is hard to tell, out of context of seeing the evaluation, but there is significant improvement across the board in increased levels of happiness, calm, mindfulness, and courage. Core Curriculum and Core Reinforcement Curriculum Question 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 # of responses Pre workshop: Unhappy or sad: Very happy 1 3 4 27 4 3 5 47 Angry: Calm 8 4 1 8 4 3 18 46 Fearful: Courageous 5 4 2 15 5 3 12 46 Not present/lost in head : Presnt/ Mindful 6 0 2 9 2 3 25 47 Average: 5 2.75 2.25 14.75 3.75 3 15 Post Workshop: Unhappy or sad: Very happy 1 0 1 27 4 4 8 45 Angry: Calm 4 0 1 7 4 4 25 45 Fearful: Courageous 5 0 0 20 2 4 14 45 Not present/lost in head : Presnt/ Mindful 2 1 1 6 0 5 30 45 Average: 3 0.25 0.75 15 2.5 4.25 19.25

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $100k - $250k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Sheltered Yoga offers a Core Curriculum Teacher Training Program as well as Yoga/Mindfulness/Meditation Teacher Training. We are on the cusp of publishing and selling our Core Curriculum and we also have contracted work from schools and programs that subsidize a portion of our programming. Ongoing sustainability will come from curriculum sales and training, as well as speaking engagements.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

As we stated earlier, there are many other somewhat similar organizations that are teaching yoga, mindfulness, and/or meditation to children on some level. We have been in multiple seminars, had first hand experience, and have received reviews from a large majority of these programs. Most of them are targeted to middle-class and upper-class schools with little or no minorities- where funding is more readily available. 95% of Sheltered Yoga's Curriculum is taught successfully in low, poverty level or severe poverty level communities, at risk communities, and to children living with trauma.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

The shift in social and emotional learning in schools and among educators is extremely exciting. It is so inspiring to know that Superintendents, Principals and Teachers are continually moving toward a mental health and wellness approach to teaching that is all inclusive and incorporates many different styles of social and emotional learning. In addition, it is very energizing to see teachers and administration personally incorporating and practicing their own positive mental health to help them avoid burn out and resentment. We believe this will only continue.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 100%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 0%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 0%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 0%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 66.7%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 0%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 33.3%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 33.3%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 66.7%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 0%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 100%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 33.3%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 66.7%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 33.3%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tina LeMar

In all of our teaching locations we have 100% engagement.  The curriculum is designed for this.  It took many years to affect this type of success but we have done it!  We are so proud.
Please share our page.  We would be most grateful.
Thank you.

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