Balancing on one leg has always been difficult for Rhys Shields as he suffers from a very rare metabolic disorder – hypophosphatasia. Diagnosed at 13 months, his family learnt that this condition causes a mineral deficiency which leaves his bones weak and prone to trembling. The disease also makes joints hyper-bendy. A bump or a fall can mean a trip to the local hospital. As a result, Rhys hasn’t been able to play games with other children, ride a bike or bounce on a trampoline.
Physiotherapy helped to strengthen Rhys’ muscles, but it was the 10 week Impact & Change course he took at Ryecroft Primary School in Bradford which really made a difference. Rhys can now balance effortlessly on one leg for 30 seconds; just a few months earlier, this had not been possible. Tests carried out after the YogaBugs course showed a dramatic improvement – Rhys’ leg strength and balance improved by 70% during the period he took up yoga!
Whilst Rhys found his physiotherapy sessions a bit of a chore, he loved the yoga classes as he got to go on fun adventures – an intergalactic space mission to rescue a lost astronaut, deep sea adventures and jungle safaris. Rhys hates being left out so he loved being able to do an activity alongside his classmates.
Jayne Clarke, Head Teacher at Ryecroft Primary School used a government grant to fund the sessions. She had previously found that yoga had helped a child with cerebral palsy. Jayne said, “Rhys hates being left out. He was the driving force for starting yoga at the school but all the children benefited in some way. This has included improving concentration during lessons and helping to build self-confidence. They love the story telling.”
As a result of our work in primary schools, we created the Impact and Change Programme last year. This programme is aimed at improving children’s emotional, physical and social development whilst providing schools with tangible results and benefits. It consists of ten weekly YogaBugs classes during which we deliver a Key Stage One or Early Years key text such as “Giraffes Can’t Dance.” We assess the children’s social, physical and behaviour skills both before and after the course. At the end of the course we send the school a full report highlighting the positive changes that have resulted from the programme. YogaBugs teachers also deliver a short programme to the class teacher, giving them the skills to use breathing and relaxation techniques with children on a daily basis. This helps to reinforce the weekly YogaBugs classes, whilst aiding concentration and focus. For further information, see http://www.yogabugs.com/education_impact.php?page_name=education
Rhys’ story featured in the Daily Express in the summer, and the lovely photograph was taken by Roger Moody. For more information about YogaBugs classes in Yorkshire, contact Rachel Frazer at email@example.com.