The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Rehabilitative programming for girls involved in California’s Juvenile Justice System.

Grant Information
Categories Education , Peace , Arts , Healthcare , Community
Location United States
Cycle Year 2015
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) The Art of Yoga Project
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Lisa Pedersen
Phone 650 996 1904
555 Bryant Street #232
Palo Alto
Additional Information
Used for The Art of Yoga Project (AYP) leads teen girls, aged 12-18, involved in the San Francisco Bay area's juvenile justice system toward accountability to self, others and community by providing practical tools to effect behavioral change. AYP specializes in innovative gender-responsive rehabilitation using a holistic, evidence-based approach to promote girls’ self-awareness, self-respect, and self-control. We send specially-trained yoga teachers and creative arts educators into juvenile detention centers and rehabilitation facilities to teach a proprietary, strength- based intervention program.
Benefits An overwhelming number of incarcerated teen girls are victims themselves, caught in cycles of violence and abuse. AYP is working to end cycles of violence and victimization for marginalized girls. Our goal is for each and every marginalized girl, regardless of her ethnicity, race, sexual identity, social class, or background to feel valued, know her self-worth and break free from victimization into empowerment and well-being.
Proposal Description As the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population, teen girls warrant age appropriate, gender specific and culturally sensitive rehabilitative services.

A study by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network shows that more than 75% of youth in the juvenile justice system have experienced trauma and more than half have developed trauma symptoms. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency estimates that in California, 81% of incarcerated girls have been physically abused, and 56% have been sexually abused. By the time a girl enters the juvenile justice system, she has experienced tremendous trauma, which often leads to co-occurring mental-health disorders including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, impulsivity, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Detaining these young girls with minor offenses, particularly those who have been commercially sexually exploited, can further victimize already traumatized youth.

The cornerstone of The Art of Yoga Project is our proprietary Yoga and Creative Arts Curriculum. The curriculum combines health education, character development, yoga, meditation and creative arts. Using the tools taught, the girls begin to identify the issues that cause them to make poor choices, manage their anger and impulses, and develop a productive outlet for their emotions and dreams. Each session begins with a rigorous, strengthening yoga practice and continues with a creative art or writing activity. Throughout class, trained facilitators lead discussions on themes such as non-violence, tolerance, sexual ethics and integrity. The curriculum is delivered year-round up to four days per week in juvenile halls and rehabilitation centers.

Yoga and art were chosen as therapeutic tools because of the increased responsiveness of women and girls to these interventions. The focus on a vigorous physical yoga practice gives the girls safe ways to push limits and test boundaries. It also helps balance the intense hormones and powerful emotions of adolescence. The practice of yoga grounds and centers the girls and allows them to connect with the best parts of themselves. In the creative arts projects the girls learn to write, paint, or draw about their feelings instead of acting out with high-risk behaviors. The creative process provides a vehicle for expression and a context for processing thoughts and emotions. The program builds trust in a circle of supportive peers and teachers, which is especially effective for young women with histories of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. A safe space is created where trust can be developed and authentic sharing becomes possible.

AYP programming is often part of the academic school day and is court-mandated for incarcerated girls in three California counties. We currently provide direct services to over 750 at-risk, incarcerated and exploited teen girls annually in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. We provide over 1,000 hours of programming at seventeen (17) Juvenile Halls and Aftercare sites in Northern California. In addition to classes in juvenile halls, AYP provides Aftercare programming to help reinforce the application of the innovative life skills we have taught these girls while incarcerated. We work closely with agencies that assist girls who want to make the transition from the streets to legal and sustainable life. Our reach has also expanded beyond the Juvenile Justice System to support at-risk teen girls and Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) through our programs in alternative high schools and rehabilitation centers.

We’ve developed the AYP Trauma Toolkit for use with our curriculum. The toolkit incorporates the Child Trauma Academy’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, which uses the most current research in child development, chronic trauma, and neuroscience to improve a child’s functioning.

Our San Jose State University-based research and evaluation team found a statistically significant increase (p< .05) in the three main indicators of program success – self-awareness, self-respect and self-control – among girls who have participated in our Yoga and Creative Arts Curriculum. Qualitative results suggest that the girls benefit greatly from an opportunity to relax, a chance to learn how to best deal with their anger or negative emotions, and to spend time ‘being in their bodies’ each day

The AYP model and best practices have been published in an international peer-reviewed journal to serve as a template for other providers. A second article evaluating our mentoring program was recently published in the same journal.

Minority groups tend to be overrepresented in samples of at-risk youth and the population served by AYP is no exception. The demographic breakdown of the girls in our programs varies by location. They are aged 12-18 and from low socio-economic strata. The San Francisco county female population is approximately 95% African-American, 4% Latino-American and 1% Caucasian; the Santa Clara County population is approximately 80% Latino-American, 8% African-American, 5% Asian/Pacific Islander, 5% White-Caucasian and 2% mixed race; whereas in San Mateo County the female juvenile offenders are approximately 50% Latino-American, 15% Asian/Pacific Islander, 20% White-Caucasian and 15% African-American.

Funding would be applied toward our FY16 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016) program costs which include: providing adequate yoga and art supplies for the girls at each of the facilities we currently serve, salaries for the site directors, yoga teachers and art therapists, teaching materials/curriculum outlines and in-service trainings for all program personnel who have direct contact with the girls inside the juvenile facilities, schools and at our Aftercare sites.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our work.