To provide a forum for students during these challenging times, YPIE brought together a group of our students to reflect on their personal experiences with racism and to share how they have been coping with the effects of COVID-19 on their communities and experiences with systemic oppression.
This online discussion was facilitated by Zack Stelzner, a teacher at Palisade Prep in Yonkers. Zack shared his personal journey with mindfulness and meditation, and techniques for starting the day with a clear mind and open heart.
At YPIE, as we encourage our students to be the voice of change, we think it’s very important that our students care for themselves. The saturation of media with images of violence and brutality towards people of color can be traumatic for YPIE students and their communities. Meditation is one of many forms of self-care and preservation that can be an effective tool for processing the trauma of racism and violence.
Graciously, many students shared other ways that they have been coping with stress recently. Dancing, painting, writing poems, and journaling were just some of the tools for coping with stress that YPIE students shared with their peers and YPIE staff.
Zack encouraged students to continue exploring these creative endeavors to find peace. It was awe-inspiring to witness the resiliency and adaptability of YPIE students, who despite many setbacks and unexpected challenges this year, have continued to create, read, write, and engage with their community in meaningful ways.
Our thanks to Zack for sharing his expertise and to all the students for their wisdom and willingness to engage in these emotional, impactful, and challenging conversations.