Source: Can West News Service
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA, January 10, 2007: A program called 'Action Schools' was initiated in British Columbia by the Education Ministry. The purpose of the program, which includes yoga and other fitness-related activities, was to give teachers access to activities that keep children active and to be proactive in fighting the problem of obesity in Canadian children. The article says that more than 1,100 elementary, middle and secondary schools in the province are signed on to Action Schools, with 247,830 students registered in the program. However, the program has caused reaction from individuals with strong Christian beliefs as yoga has Hindu roots. Cattle rancher Audrey Cummings filed a complaint with the Quesnel school board and said, "Supposedly, we do not allow religion in schools -- and yoga is a religion." Chelsea Bears, a parent, also complained when her son participated in yoga class where the pose necessitated him placing his hands together. Superintendent of the Quesnel district Sue-Ellen Miller commented, "If a parent or student takes issue with yoga, alternate exercises will be provided for the pupil in question. We would never mandate that a child do them." Education Minister Shirley Bond said, "There is not an intent to have a philosophic or religious intent for this. We're trying to deal with the issue of obesity. We're trying to find as many ways as possible to engage our children in healthy and active lifestyles." Vancouver yoga instructor and former kindergarten teacher Mara Branscombe adds, "Yoga brings clarity to the mind. The benefits are huge in terms of productivity. The practice builds self-esteem and confidence, and controlled-breathing techniques promote an optimal state for student learning. They're more relaxed, so they can work intelligently and creatively."