For over two years, Alizah Silver has been teaching mindfulness, activism, and compassion to KIPP Empower Academy elementary school students in South Los Angeles through her interactive yoga classes and after-school program known as the LOVE ACTIVISTS.
The LOVE ACTIVISTS are a group of 25 students who create art, music, and videos for social media in order to make the world a better place. “The program focuses on building compassionate leadership and responsible citizenship,” explains Silver. Students from each grade in elementary and middle school are represented in the group so that each level has leaders who model the values of the LOVE ACTIVISTS. She adds that the goal of the group is to “help transform schools into places of healing and learning for the entire community and to empower compassionate leaders of the next generation to inspire our children, families, teachers, and administrators to come together and make their school, community, and world a better place.” Just last week, the LOVE ACTIVISTS launched their latest video, 'Mother Earth'
Ms. Silver not only builds relationships with her students, but with their families, teachers, and community, as well. She leads Family Yoga Nights and Women’s Circles at KIPP Empower, which are safe spaces for the community to come together to heal, learn, and grow.
Ms. Silver also leads professional development for trauma-informed teaching practices and connects the KIPP SoCal initiative H.E.A.R.T. (Healing Environments & Responses to Trauma) to her daily practices. “It is our responsibility to teach social and environmental justice so our children can make choices that will create a more sustainable, just, and healthy world - that is equity,” she notes.
The key components of the HEART concept include:
- Establish school-wide understanding of trauma & resilience
- Foster supportive adult relationships
- Prioritize social and emotional learning
- Provide physical and emotional learning
- Collaborate with families and community
- Support and invest in developing educators and quality teaching
“Teaching nearly 1,000 students how to unite their mind, body, and spirit is the most powerful work I’ve had the privilege of doing in my entire life,” shares Ms. Silver. “I love coming back each year and seeing my students grow in their character, ability to self-regulate, social-emotional skills, and leadership skills.”