Passionate people inspire me. Seriously, there are few things in this world that charge me up more than witnessing someone clearly articulate a vision and work hard to achieve a dream. Liz Bradley is one of those people. For the past 2 years she has teamed up with her Philadelphia yoga community to raise funds for the non-profit buildOn‘s Global School Project, through which they will build 2 schools in Nicaragua. For one of her fundraising efforts, Liz worked with friend and fellow yogi Sarah Pitrus to design and offer a four week babywearing yoga series to the Southeastern PA babywearing community. I was lucky enough to both be a part of the yoga series AND sit down and chat with these two amazing women about buildOn and Babywearing yoga. Please enjoy the interview and consider donating (every dollar makes a difference!) to this worthwhile endeavor.
Lizzy: Hi Liz and Sarah, thanks so much for chatting with me about babywearing yoga and buildOn!
Liz: Good morning Lizzy! Thank you for supporting my fundraising efforts as well as practicing yoga with the group!
Lizzy: First things first, what is buildOn and how did you get involved with this project?
Liz: buildOn is a non-profit group that creates after school programs and service projects for at risk youth and has a global school project, I am involved with the Global School Project. Here is a bit of information about how they build schools.
Before a single brick is laid, buildOn requires that villages form a gender-equal Leadership Team for the construction project. A Covenant is then signed between buildOn and the community that outlines each party’s obligation; buildOn agrees to provide the engineering, materials, skilled labor and project supervision. The village contributes up to 3,000 volunteer work days and a promise to send girls to be educated in equal numbers as boys. After construction on the two or three-classroom school is complete, our staff continues to monitor and evaluate the school. After the school is fully populated and they have demonstrated their commitment to sending both boys and girls to school, we will build the same community a second school structure. This approach not only ensures the success of the school, but has in many cases illustrated to villages what can be accomplished by teamwork and equality.
Liz: I became involved with buildOn through my Yoga Teacher Training program, Beyond Asana. Beyond Asana was created by the talented Brittany Policastro who personally raised $33,000 dollars for various charities. This program combined fundraising and yoga, and requires each student to raise $5,000. Last year I began my studies to become a yoga teacher. However two months into my studies I found out that I was pregnant with my son! Needless to say the journey was physically difficult and I was unable to travel to Nepal with the group because my son was just born. I have combined my efforts from last year and this year to be able to go to Nicaragua in February 2014 to help build a school.
Lizzy: Liz, can you tell me about your journey as a yoga instructor and how yoga communities are supporting buildOn.
Liz: I have been practicing yoga for almost 15 years. I immediately fell in love after my first yoga class in college. My mind was clear and quiet and I loved how yoga made my body look and feel. I knew that studying yoga was something that I would enjoy however I was always busy doing something else or working extra hours on the weekends. It wasn’t until last year that I finally had the extra time to develop my passion. I was attracted to the Beyond Asana program because it sounded challenging. Boy was I right! The training and fundraising took me to places I never would have gone without it.
Currently about twenty five Philadelphia yogis are fundraising to build two schools in Nicaragua. Our yoga community in Philadelphia has collectively raised close to $82,000. Many of us have chosen to combine our love for teaching yoga to help us fundraise. Last year my fundraising looked much different. I held events and did a ton of social media blasts. This year I have taught yoga classes to not only fundraise but to strengthen my instruction skills.
Lizzy: What inspired you to create a babywearing yoga series as part of your fundraising? How did you design the practice specifically to compliment babywearing parents?
Liz: After having my son Brendan I immediately fell in love with babywearing, however he just didn’t seem to love it. It wasn’t until my friend and fellow yogi Sarah Pitrus invited me to a Babywearing International Meeting that I finally was able to learn how to wrap tighter so that my son would enjoy being snuggled in to my chest! After spending a few months wearing my son on a daily basis, I tried a morning yoga practice at home with him in a carrier. He loved it and so did I! I mentioned it to Sarah and asked her what she thought. She thought trying to create a class of some sort would be fun and that began my brainstorming for a class or series.
Sarah: I wanted to be part of the babywearing yoga classes because they combined two parts of my life that I adore. I haven’t been back to teaching yoga since having my baby, so this was the perfect opportunity to get back into the studio while bringing her along. I am very lucky to be able to assist with teaching Liz’s class. She puts so much effort, time, and love into her fundraising. She wanted to create something very special with this class series, and I believe she succeeded.
Liz: Designing this class was where the real work came! Sarah Himebach the president of BWI SEPA assisted me in my search for a safe yoga practice. She referred me to a few people who have taught a similar class. I also spent hours wearing my son Brendan while holding and moving through the poses. Sarah and I collaborated though the safest poses while trying to construct an interesting sequences. I tried wearing my son in a FWCC in a wrap as well as on the front and back in an SSC. I feel as though I spent the entire summer thinking about how different your body moves while wearing your baby.
Sarah: Babywearing yoga isn’t a class that either of us had taken before, but using our knowledge of safe babywearing practices and yoga modifications, we aimed to create something that all participants would enjoy. Teaching a new format that allowed mamas to practice while wearing their babies or while their little ones played has been an exciting challenge. In some ways it is different than any other yoga class I’ve taught before, but coming together with others to share embodied relaxation, mindfulness, and community is always a wonderful thing.
Liz: The Babywearing Yoga Series is being held on Wednesday at 10am at Artisan Yoga in Wayne, PA. The last class is being held on Oct 30th; it will be a Halloween themed class and participants are encouraged to dress in costume. Each class is twenty dollars. Prizes are being raffled off at each class, including some babywearing gift certificates!
Lizzy: If people are/were unable to attend the babywearing yoga sessions, how else can they support your fundraising efforts for buildOn?
Liz: They can stop by my fundraising website. No amount is too small! I’m also sponsoring a Facebook event where people can upload and share photos for a donation! Fundraising ends in a week, so we are down to the wire.
Lizzy: It was a pleasure talking to you both about this inspiring project! Thank you for sharing it with me and my Where We Wear readers. I wish you all the best in your fundraising efforts.
Liz: Thank you so much for supporting this project!