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Service Learning Feature: Jillian Kemmet

Through the Yoga Teacher Service Learning Project with UW-Eau Claire, Jillian Kemmet responded and delivered her gifts creatively.  Her dedication was goal oriented and focused with timely follow through, and working with her was such a breath of fresh air.  Her gentle spirit allowed the concept of calmness to shine through with the students at the Children’s Nature Academy.  These qualities demonstrate an outstanding community connection, through the breath, and teaching us to be.  This all ties into the Bluebird Experience, when together we Breathe, Believe, and Be.

So thankful to connect, collaborate, and create with her!

In her own words, here is Jillian Kemmet’s Bluebird Experience:

My Bluebird Experience

By Jillian Kemmet

This summer I got the opportunity to volunteer as a yoga instructor over at the UWEC Priory- Children’s Nature Academy. The Priory has a summer care for children in the community, as well as UWEC professor’s children. The students there have many things that they do throughout their days, and on Wednesdays, I was one of their morning activities that they got to attend.  I chose this service learning opportunity because first of all, I love children and being able to work with them, as well as providing physical fitness was a huge bonus! I also wanted to do this because I have a passion for yoga, and would one day like to become a yoga instructor as a side job, or maybe even have a class at the university.

Shelly Sutley works with The Priory and is the head of the Bluebird program, which is a fun learning experience for the children to learn about nature and the wildlife that Eau Claire provides. The bluebird is one of the main birds that Shelly focuses on, and has set up multiple NestBoxes throughout the surrounding of The Priory. Throughout the days, she will bring different classrooms of children outside to observe, learn and interact with the birds. The children are so engaged and focused on the lives of these birds.

Yoga was an essential class that Shelly wanted to provide to the kids for the summer, because it was a chance for them to become one with their inner selves, and learn the essence of the breath. That’s where I came in. Yoga has been very close to me and gives me an escape from everyday life whenever I need it. I wanted to provide this same experience for the children of the nature academy, so when they were in nature, they would be able to come one with not only themselves, but also with the birds.

During the class we would always start out with 3 deep breaths, closing our eyes, and focusing our minds on our own practice. I had all age groups of children, from three – ten years of age; I looked at this as a learning experience, not only for me, but also for the children. I was used to more challenging poses, but this gave me the opportunity to modify a routine that young children could do, and challenge themselves with. After we focused in on our breath, we moved into some of the more challenging poses, which included a variation called the bluebird, something the children could relate to when they are outside with Shelly, while also staying quiet and focusing on their breath. The kids loved this and requested it every week I was with them.

This experience was one that will stick with me forever. The children at the Nature Academy were so energetic and well behaved, that every week I looked forward to being with them, and wish I could stay all day long! One day after yoga, I traveled on an adventure with Shelly and some of the kids and learned all about the bluebird. We saw some of the babies and unfortunately a casualty from one of the nests that the birds had been in. The heat cost these young birds their lives, and I think by showing the children, they were able to see that not every animal can survive in the same kinds of conditions that we as humans can. While I was outside with the kids and Shelly, we focused on our breath, and had to be very quiet, because if they were screaming or being wild then the birds would fly away. It was wonderful to see the children using what I had taught them and applying it. I hope the children will keep their yoga experience in mind throughout their everyday lives!

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