Youth are naturally inquisitive. In a high technology and information driven environment, youth are growing up with radically different social structures and connectivity compared to past generations. In a world oversaturated with information and sensory input, it is difficult to make sense of what is valuable or reliable. There are diverse, constant and concomitant demands on our concentration, constricting our ability to focus, detrimental to youth, who are still developing. These issues are compounded along with social pressures and by highly demanding educational system, put inordinate pressure on the youth to be in constant production and performance. Such imposition narrowly defined outcomes dilute the inherent sense of presence and curiosity that youth are naturally endowed.
Without a clearly defined sense of self and capability, many students are unable to cope with the daily pressures of school and home life. Evidencing this, is a dismaying rise in teen depression, anxiety, suicide and violence (including gun violence). According to the CDC, the suicide rate for girls ages 15-19 has doubled from 2007 to 2015; and has increased by 30% for boys in the same age range.
MAY Kids Founder and Executive Director, Agni Zotis took a personal interest in this issue when her son Francis, at age fourteen received two phone calls from friends, who were institutionalized after suicide attempts. Agni and Francis both realized that self-harm amongst youth had reached epidemic proportions. It is evident that this generation’s unmet emotional needs have to be addressed. The behavioral health amongst youth must be put front and center. Teaching youth tools for emotional intelligence helps transform negative mindsets, such as lack of clarity or/and anxiety, into a more optimistic outlook, empowered by taking action. We developed a curriculum with personal experience and with advice from youth, therapists, educators, and yogis tailored specifically to the needs of students and their educators. The program has been implemented in various educational institutions for seven years and continues to expand.
Agni discovered the transformational power of the creative process, mindfulness, yoga in her teenage years and dived into training during her first visit to India in 1996. She became a certified yoga and meditation instructor 15 years ago. Agni’s focus on mindfulness has been a key life practice and one that has supported her through the vicissitudes of her own life, and through teaching to others.
MAY Kids Transform grew out of the need for youth and educators to find their own voice, strength, and sense of connectivity for wellness and community building. A core philosophy of MAY is mental and emotional literacy and self-awareness. Students and educators are empowered to find their own truth and make sense of their environments. MAY cultivates gratitude and understanding of the self, others and the environment including our earth. We enhance education as we believe these are fundamental skills for thriving in the modern world and creating a better quality of life.
As a licensed vendor of the New York public schooling system, MAY currently works with multiple public schools.