We are pleased to officially announce the winner of the $1,000 Susan Kay Hollingshead Scholarship: Lydia Atkins from Blountsville, AL. Lydia expresses her sincere gratitude to Susan's family and hopes to bring some of the light from Susan's path into her own. The scholarship application question and Lydia's response are below, we hope you are as inspired by her plans as we are:
Is there a specific need-based population to which you aspire to offer "accessible yoga"? What is your connection to/background with that population?
My intention is to offer accessible yoga classes to people with differently-abled bodies and minds and ages and those that cannot afford the costs of a regular practice at a studio. Yoga has gently weaved in and out of my life through heart opening and sometimes spontaneous requests for me to lead class in communal settings, a small Irish town festival and as a tool during my two years as an educator with the McDowell Farm School and FoodCorps of North Carolina. I feel led to get trained officially and make yoga a more regular offering to communities and empower others to integrate the yoga form that suits them, wherever they are.
Specifically, I plan to support the organization Special Sessions, a summer camp session and series of weekend retreats and holiday gatherings for people of all ages with mental and physical disabilities. It takes place in Bethany Village at Camp McDowell and is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. I led a yoga session this past summer in which 20 people attended and asked for daily classes during next summer's camp sessions.
I also intend to offer yoga to Sawyerville Day Camp in Greensboro, AL whose mission is to broaden the horizons of participants and staff, improve race relations, and enrich the lives of those living in poverty in Hale County, Alabama and the surrounding areas. I staffed Sawyerville Day Camp for several summers in high school and college and still support this organization today. The camp serves ages 6-14 where kids play games, make crafts, learn to swim, and enjoy a breakfast, lunch, and snack all at absolutely no cost.
Again, other organizations I am led to support are ACE and Hospice of Marshall Co. As my husband and I root ourselves in North Alabama and settle into our new way of life, building this retreat center and working towards becoming community members, more yoga offerings will be possible.