By Robin Cogan, from her blog, the Relentless School Nurse and Kathy Gigantiello “Nurse G”
I am continuously inspired by the generosity of spirit that is being shared during this complicated and unprecedented time. There are artists, musicians, storytellers, and teachers creating opportunities for families to bring some structure to our very unstructured day. You can find a variety of classes, concerts, and virtual gatherings through social media. One shining example that I wanted to share is the story of ‘Kids Yoga with Nurse G’.
Kathy Gigantiello (Nurse G) is a school nurse in Medford, New Jersey, sharing her love of yoga with kids and families as we all “Stay at Home” to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. You can tune into Nurse G’s class every week day at 11 a.m. through her private Facebook live group Kids Yoga with Nurse G. Click on the link to request to join her private group. Thank you, Nurse G. for creating innovative ways for families to create healthy moments through your gift of yoga!
On a Friday in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic I was told to bring my computer home and prepare for an extended school closing. As I looked around my Health office and prepared to leave I felt a pull in my chest as I knew when I walked out of my school building we were headed into uncertain times.
Children would learn from home as teachers provided remote learning and parents would work from home. We were told to enact social distancing, sports were canceled, dance was canceled, playdates were canceled.
Things were changing quickly, restaurants were closing, non-essential businesses, and then my yoga studio. Shine Power Yoga is a place where I go to feel connection with community, to breathe, to move my body, and to let go of stress. I thought a lot that day about the rapid changes to our way of life. I kept thinking about the children and the families I care for and how I could continue to connect with them as a community from my home.
On a Monday night on Facebook I posted that I would be hosting a Kids Yoga class the next day via Facebook Live. The word yoga means “union” to join together. The first day 161 families joined in. That night I created the Kids Yoga with Nurse G page on Facebook.
My intention in doing this was to create a time everyday were children could step away from their schoolwork and move their bodies and parents could get a break from the demands of their changed lifestyle as they have become parent and teacher all within the confines of their home. I also felt it was extremely important for the children to feel connected to their school community. To still feel cared for by their Certified School Nurse.
Yoga teaches lifelong skills and this was an opportunity to introduce the children to the lasting benefits of yoga. Which include: flexibility and strength, improved balance, enhanced concentration and focus, being present and mindful, boost confidence, promote health and stress management, and spark creativity and self-expression.
Monday through Friday we meet via Facebook Live at 11 a.m. EST. I choose a theme based from the books “GoGo Yoga for Kids” by Sara J. Weis and create a flow that incorporates breathing, movement and mindfulness. Today, we visited the zoo! We did elephant breathing, saw lions and animals from Australia and even went in the reptile house. Every day I receive pictures of children doing yoga with smiles on their faces and comments of how the kids are looking forward to yoga every day. I started this for the children and families yet I have gained such joy and feel so connected.
My Kids Yoga with Nurse G page now has 442 followers as I initially was reaching out to my school to stay connected to my kids. My families started asking could they share the information with families outside my district and I said “absolutely” as we are all in this together.
Kathy Gigantiello RN, BSN, CSN-NJ has been a Registered Nurse for 33 years. She has served the last 12 years as the Certified School Nurse at Milton H. Allen Elementary School in Medford, NJ. She is the mother of four grown children. She lives with her husband Joe and her five dogs. She is a 200-hour YTT Certified Yoga Instructor.