Jasmine Simons and Diamond Dill enjoy going to work. They’re part of a teen volunteer programme at Kinetix Natural Movement.
Students are taught yoga for free and get guided meditation in exchange for cleaning, setting up and assisting with classes at the Pembroke studio.
Owner Kallie Marcus started the programme in January.
She calls it the Karma Yoga/Teen Volunteer Experience, largely because it’s about giving back. The 29-year-old spent four unhappy years behind a desk and wants Bermuda’s teens to know there are alternatives.
“The goal is for me to try and get more teens to be involved, to expose them to something that’s not a traditional working environment,” she said.
“I had a hard time as a teen and I want to be able to help them as they transition from teens to adults. When I grew up I thought had to be an underwriter. I spent four years, working at three different insurance companies. It didn’t work out until I found something that made me happy.”
Ms Marcus opened Kinetix two years ago in the old Berkeley school on Berkeley Road. She’s certified as a yoga teacher for adults and children; a gymnastics teacher and a paddleboard yoga instructor; she’s also trained in aerial yoga and aerial silks.
Putting all that to work is what made her happy.
“I struggled meeting the expectations of my parents, my teachers, society as a whole, until I realised I don’t have to do what people expect of me,” she said.
“My heart is in movement, in yoga, gymnastics, developmental methods for children, understanding that every child has a different way of learning.”
Ms Marcus sent letters to schools in January, asking for interested students willing to volunteer for at least three months.
“Essential qualities are flexibility, accountability, integrity and kindness,” she wrote.
“We look for individuals who are positive, have reasonable expectations, a strong work ethic and are welcoming to guests.”
Jasmine signed up because the responsibilities seemed to fit perfectly with her gymnastics background.
“I like Kinetix because I enjoy teaching the little children gymnastics,” the 13-year-old said. “I used to compete on the Bermuda Gymnastics Association team and I like to pass my experience on to them so they can be passionate about the same things I was.
“I also enjoy the silks and hammocks. Learning about yoga has been very informative and very helpful in school. It helps with any anxiety I have [when taking] tests; it helps me to relax and focus.”
Diamond was similarly enthusiastic about her time at Kinetix.
“I did gymnastics for 12 years and got invited to help children and pass down my expertise,” the 14-year-old said.
“I love the Karma programme. It’s for teens really just to gain work experience in addition to them being able to take free yoga classes. We’re given duties — we help with prep for gym classes, yoga and aerial classes. It’s a great community service element.”
Ms Marcus offers yoga classes for adults and teens. Her community service programme was designed to help young people cope with “growing pains”.
“Growing up I had to do community service but this is not the average community service,” she said. “Teens may not be able to afford [classes such as these] so, instead of just catering to adults I decided to offer this programme to teens, people who trying to find way their way in the world. They can come into an environment that’s peaceful and serene and do things they love.
“Being a teenager can be very hard. I’ve figured out the transition part, and that’s most rewarding. Teenagers can come, I won’t judge them; they can ask me questions they might not ask their parents.
“I’ve become a counsellor for children and teens, not because I am one, but I think I have enough life experience at age 29, to help them figure out what’s happening.
“There’s no specific hours. It’s really about their schedule. They can look on the class schedule and choose a time to help based on the class that interests them. They can help out there or with studio duties or administrative duties — the interest really comes from them. My expectations are they come on time, they go through their duty lists and chores are checked off by the end of that time period. It gives them skills they need to transition from child to teen to adult but I think the real message is whatever put in is exactly what you get back out of it.
“They come in to work and they’re rewarded with yoga skills and the ability to make their body feel good.”
• For more information visit www.gokinteix.com</i>