LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2014 Grants Challenge

FLY Yoga Arts: Enhancing LAUSD Arts Education with Integrated Mindfulness Movement & Creative Play

FLY will bring in depth training in Arts Instruction and Creative Play Curriculum to the staff and students at LA's BEST Enrichment Program.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

FLY will bring in depth training in Arts Instruction and Creative Play Curriculum to the staff and students at LA's BEST Enrichment Program.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

Central LA

East LA

South LA


LAUSD Schools through LA's BEST Enrichment Program

What is your idea/project in more detail?

FLY has partnered with LA's BEST Enrichment Program. Recently, we trained a portion of their staff, and taught young teachers to integrate Yoga, Mindfulness & Creative Play during their Summer sessions. Our innovative curriculum aids progress and success in each of our students by giving them tools of physical and mental wellness, self confidence, and a joy of learning through play.

FLY has been invited back to develop more trainings, and to bring our own teachers to LAUSD this Fall. But, our budget's reach is small. If awarded, FLY proposes to develop in depth materials, training, and on-site mentorship for the aspiring teachers and leaders at LA’s BEST to bring to thousands of LAUSD kids.

We will bring Arts & Education to its feet!

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

FLY will send our Creator/ Director, Haley Dawn, to lead large staff trainings for LA's BEST Enrichment Program staff. We will send teaching artists to various schools to work closely on site, providing ongoing lesson plans, exercises, student progress charts, and classroom management support throughout the 2014-2015 school year.

We will create surveys & communication plans that monitor each staff member's understanding and ability to implement lessons in an authentic way, and by the end of the year hope to be able to certify many LA’s BEST staff in the FLY Methods. Staff will bring these creative tools to their endeavors beyond their time with LA’s BEST, reaching more with their efforts in creative play and arts education.

Finally, to keep true to its vision and spirit, FLY will create video/ audio recordings that will aid in introducing and leading exercises. In addition, FLY will provide curriculum materials (lesson plans, intentions, teacher handbooks, and student worksheets), as well as classroom materials and equipment for LA's BEST Schools to run our program for a full calendar year.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

FLY will introduce thousands of young people and educators to the joys of Artistic Play! In doing so, we will bring Arts Education to low income communities, empower students to academic success, increase attendance in after school programs, and plant seeds of healthy living.

Our LA schools are in crisis. The impact of strict testing and low budgets is generally one of low morale and low self-confidence among students and staff.

The quick fix both in schools and at home is to "plug in" the kids to their iGadgets. We have all seen the socio- emotional consequences and lack of civility that is a result of too little human connection, too little creativity and too little self-understanding. While new technology is amazing for efficiency and entertainment, these tools rarely engage our physical bodies and creative minds: the main instruments for experiential learning.

FLY has seen the vast benefits of bringing balance through Arts education to every social and economic community. Through FLY, teachers take kids out of their seats, out of the box and into their bodies. Our innovative training establishes community, enhances healthy self- image and communication, trains the right brain, improves focus, and keeps kids excited to come to school each day. With students inspired to learn through Artistic Play, our after school numbers will grow, attendance can improve, and progress can skyrocket.

Our New York program saw a 40% increase in students coming to after school programs at our partner schools in just this past calendar year, and students have often said that these classes are "the reason why we come to school."

FLY's unique teacher training offers a complete skill set that brings kids into physical, social, and emotional engagement while threading in the lessons of the day. Our Arts framework guides teachers and students toward critical thinking, teamwork, expression and compassionate communication. Additionally, we give tools for classroom management and engagement, as well as breathing exercises and attention- training games that help kids to stay focused and excited about the task at hand.

FLY is committed to instilling a genuine love for teaching and learning that only can be illuminated by a program that highlights the personal gifts of each and every participant. If we truly encourage our youth to learn to play, and play to learn, we will blaze a trail for the next generation to be healthier, happier and more innovative by 2050!

Whom will your project benefit?

Our project’s main beneficiary will be the LA’s BEST Staff for whom we provide close training, mentorship, and development. We hope to give much of this young team, drawn directly from lower income neighborhoods and schools, innovative and wellness-centered skills that they have rarely been exposed to. These tools of creativity, on-your- feet learning, and mindfulness will encourage them toward personal happiness and wellness, as well as offer them teaching practices that can carry them into successful relationships, educational endeavors, and careers, with FLY, LA’s BEST and beyond.

Second, as FLY's Teaching Artists land at each school, they will directly affect and nurture the LA’s BEST Supervisors and Staff with extra support needed to increase Arts education in LA schools. FLY will provide essential materials and classroom tools for the organization that will benefit the program as a whole.

Finally, FLY will benefit the LAUSD students. Under well trained staff guidance, they will experience creative play and arts education at its best! Kids will not only learn to express, create and collaborate through their creative playtime, but will gain the health benefits of our movement curriculum’s physical fitness and energetic wellness. They will also be exposed to priceless self-awareness, communication, and life skills that will grow them into curious, compassionate, and innovative citizens.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

FLY is collaborating with LA’s BESTt Enrichment Program. Beginning this past April, we have developed a relationship with LA’s BEST FIT as well as LA’s BEST ARTS in order to bring new and innovative Yoga training and Performing & Visual Arts instruction skills to their team. We have also provided lesson outlines, and curriculum breakdowns that easily bring our FLY classes and methodology to their students.

We have continued our communication and are working to schedule initial trainings and a handful of school partnerships beginning in August. If awarded, we will be able to provide much more in depth training, ongoing classroom time, and give tools to more of the LA’s BEST programs- providing nearly 200 LAUSD Elementary Schools with a more qualified staff, and potentially exposing thousands more after school kids to artistic education!

The critical factors that will make this collaboration successful, will be:

1. Our ability to meet with and train the LA’s BEST staff at least three times over the year: one initial training, an in classroom follow up, and an end of year follow up workshop.

2. Access and commitment from the LA’s BEST staff to implement our tools and practices, including lesson plans, audio, video and funsheets into their Enrichment programming.

3. LA's BEST's assistance in measuring our goals through surveys, student and staff testimonials, and on site observations throughout the school year.

How will your project impact the LA2050 LEARN metrics?

Academic Performance Index scores

Truancy rates in elementary and middle school (Dream Metric)

Providing Instruction in Arts Education, Mindfulness, & Health.

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

With Arts funding declining, FLY has created an innovative way to incorporate Arts and Movement into the classroom and after school programs by impacting how teachers teach. Our program was born as an artistic movement. People at large are inspired to impact and nurture one another through creativity and exploration.

Our curriculum embodies the best of the Performing and Visual Arts and is combined with the health benefits and self-awareness practices of Yoga. In giving these tools to the staff of LA’s BEST Enrichment we are integrating Arts into Physical Education as well as introducing an Artistic spin on the subjects of Reading, Writing, Phonics, Math and Science.

This innovative approach looks beyond the separation of Math from Music, and Writing from Performance. Instead, we include and transcend ordinary games and exercises by bringing them into an integrated and experiential format in which we all learn best.

Our Teaching Artists are experts in their area, as well as skilled educators and mentors. Their presence will impact LA's BEST staff and leaders, as well as provide inspiration for students' growth and development. Students often learn best after the school day is complete, and in making their current lessons into games, our teaching artists nurture each child's ability to understand and grow academically.

Notably, also, is our ability to instill a love and joy of learning into educators and students. Our New York program saw a daily attendance increase from students as a result of being enrolled in our program, and high school students have been able to receive credit in Arts and P.E. where they were previously failing.

As our program grows and develops more school relationships in the coming years, I foresee that FLY's partnership with LAUSD will also greatly increase the attendance in LA’s after school offerings, impact academic learning and school day attendance, open more young people’s minds to careers in the arts, health and education industries, and even introduce healthy, physical practices that can impact our youth’s obesity rate.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

1. We will first evaluate our effectiveness in teaching the FLY tools to LA’s BEST Staff. Our initial training will consist of a short survey pre- and post-training that measures the staff’s increase in subject knowledge as well as their confidence to bring the tools into their classes.

2. Midway through the session, we will have supervisors and FLY Staff initiate on-site staff reviews to see how fully the tools have been implemented, and the staff’s growth within the FLY curriculum and standards.

3. Our final review will be an end of year Staff Self Evaluation that allows teachers to give feedback on their experience with the kids. Here, they can communicate their own confidence and fluency in the FLY tools given, and be eligible for our final test toward FLY certification.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

The two greatest lessons that propelled me build the FLY Yoga Arts program, and in proposing the program to LA2050 are: First, I have learned there is a formula for every child to learn, thrive and reach their highest potential. Whether a child excels most through creativity, physical games or complex puzzles, the thing every child has in common is their need to play and create. This realization led me to action- we must bring our right-brain gifts of abstract thinking and connection back to education.

Second, this artistic approach to learning is equally important to impart to educators and after school program leaders in order to transform their effectiveness as teachers, role models and mentors. This shift in how the Arts are treated and respected can truly expand both student and teacher's self motivation, self esteem, and ability to learn and grow.

The current education system is outdated - designed to create a type of worker to fit a system that has evolved and transformed in the last 50 years. In learning from my students, I have seen the growing importance to meet a student where they are. Many students these days are over-stimulated, distracted, full of bursting energy, and itching with a desire to play and create.

These students are not nurtured in our current school system. I have seen too many kids fail and drop out, and too many educators give up. This failure is in the education system and the skills teachers acquire from it, resulting in their inability to transform learning into play, and in turn create a joy of learning.

For the past year, in addition to running the FLY program in 15 NY locations, I have worked at building a strong foundation to bring self-awareness, focus, movement and play to LA's education community.

FLY keeps students on their feet and in motion to integrate their learning, while becoming more self aware, self confident, and compassionate. I have trained some of LA’s Best Staff to bring FLY into their Summer programs, and have seen each staff member's excitement about our tools and exercises. One attendee writes, "I feel that this training can influence the kids to have a peaceful, fun, and positive attitude to learning."

These skills are not available or offered to many, and are even more rare in at-risk schools and low income neighborhoods. If awarded by LA2050 we will have the opportunity to inspire transformation for both teachers and students in the classroom and in their communities.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

FLY is already partnered with many LAUSD schools through LA’s BEST Enrichment Program. This program provides the staff, the schools, the students and the system to bring our tools to the masses!

However, with limited funding, FLY can only reach so many. With the generosity of the Goldhirsch Foundation, we will have all the tools necessary to grow our teaching artist staff, lead numerous workshops and trainings both for LA’s BEST coordinators and leaders, as well as provide in-school teaching artists to support the program in at least fifteen schools. We will have funding to create full video lessons, audio recordings, and workbooks that can be easily shared during the class day, and help provide “FLY Out of the Box: Mindfulness and Movement breaks” to every LA’s BEST School, and hopefully beyond to many more schools in LA County!

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The first foreseeable barrier will be placing the FLY program into immediate effect. Since we will not know if we’ve received the award till the end of September, much of our preparation time will be cut short, as schools are already in full swing starting early August.

If awarded, we will prepare a timeline to ensure all staff is ready to participate and fully trained to implement our program by January 2015. The grant funding will allow FLY to procure spaces for weekend trainings, pay the LA’s BEST Staff for any additional time, and to create necessary materials in a timely manner.

The second barrier will be this potentially sudden and large growth to our program. FLY’s current administrative staff if small, and we focus on building meaningful and long lasting partnerships with every FLY School. Wiith additional funding in the coming year, FLY will increase staff to meet the needs of day to day communication with schools, FLY teaching artists, and with LA’s BEST program directors and site coordinators.