For this week’s Hometown Heroes, AY About You sits down with Sony Afuwape, the founder of the Institute for Mindful Learning.
Afuwape tells us more about her background. “I’m originally from the Northeast. My family and I made our way to Arkansas when my family was in residency. We loved nature here, and raising our kids and our family. It’s been a blessing to be here. I was in business with an MBA from Cornell University, and my undergraduate degree at Northeastern. I was a business consultant for quite some time before I decided to shift my efforts to community engagement,” she says.
But it wasn’t until Afuwape’s daughter began struggling with traditional learning environments that Afuwape realized that this might not be an isolated incident.
“My daughter, we found out that she was kind of struggling in traditional learning environments, and we tried to find tons of ways of helping her. But we learned that the traditional structure of how things are taught to young people just wasn’t working out for her. She wanted more,” Afuwape says. “My husband and I have lived all over the world and we realized that people are becoming more and more disconnected. We wanted to find a space or a place where people could just sit down and become themselves again, and spiritually care for one another.”
To combat the ineffectiveness of traditional classrooms, Afuwape founded the Institute for Mindful Learning. “We are an elementary school, and a mindfulness and yoga school as well for young people and their families. Our mission is to bring the natural world, love, mindfulness and social engagement to young people.”
Afuwape explains the idea behind The Institute for Mindful Learning. “The idea is that if we can really touch the hearts of young people, they can become the next generation of leaders, where they’re in touch with the community. We really focus on caring for your fellow person and being individual contributors to your community,” she says.
Afuwape admits that within the last year, things have changed drastically.
“We are really trying to make sure at the very least that we have resources available for families. A lot of our parents are essential workers. We’ve tried to extend our hours and become a really big extended family. Early hours, later hours, coming in when we might not do so. Our yoga instructor has been opening up classes for parents to take because they’re very stressed,” Afuwape shares. “We’re also working with a lot of other organizations that focus on mindfulness to also focus on the needs of others and families. We are hosting a community kids yoga workshop on the weekends as well for kids who are not part of our school on the weekends as well.”
Afuwape says that the organization will continue to host workshops in order to best serve the community during these trying times.
Interested in practicing mindfulness with your family? Be sure to check out The Institute for Mindful Learning’s website for more information.