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Yoga enthusiasts stretch for Boulder County foster care awareness

A handful of people gathered at the Boulder County Recycling Center on Saturday for several hours of yoga. The event served not only as a full day of exercise, but as a way of opening dialogue and creating awareness for the needs of the Boulder County foster care program.

“The cause and the event both fit well with our interests,” participant Janna Hansen said.

She came to do yoga with her friend, Carllee Curran, who is taking yoga classes at Naropa University.

“Yoga has so much inherent meaning,” said Moriah Arnold, one of the principal organizers of the event. “Today we’re practicing karma yoga, the yoga of selfless service. It parallels what they’re doing with the foster program.”

Arnold is a Naropa University student who was volunteering with the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services when she came up with the idea for Yogathon for Foster Care.

“People do the yoga, but their sponsors, instead of pledging money, are pledging time recruiting people,” explained Gabriel Bernier, the program’s marketing and recruitment specialist. “Whatever you have to give, you can help.”

Being a foster parent is a big commitment that not everyone is ready or willing to make, he said. What Bernier and Arnold sought to accomplish through the event is opening the door for community members to help however they can.

People can volunteer their time by providing respite care, which is essentially short-term breaks for foster parents who need it. Other ways of helping are tutoring or assisting with activities for foster care children, cooking or doing laundry, or providing items or skills on the Foster Family Wishlist.

Participants of the yogathon met at the Boulder County Recycling Center at 10:30 a.m. and started the day by concentrating on their breathing and intentions.

“Find what it is you’d like to dedicate the fruits of your actions to today and just hold that in your head,” a volunteer asked the yoga practitioners, or “yogis.”

Dan Thornton then began to lead the yogis in sun salutations and other poses.

“I’m going to start off really gentle, because we’ve got a long ways to go,” he said.

There were about 10 people at the beginning of the yogathon, with participants coming in and out throughout the day.

Before Saturday, yogis gathered sponsors who could choose between three levels of pledging:

Attend a foster care advocate training, and recruit one person for every ten sun salutations performed by the yogi you sponsor;

Attend a foster care advocate training, and donate one item from the Foster Family Wishlist; or

Donate one volunteer hour of foster care outreach at community festivals for every 10 sun salutations performed by the yogi you sponsor.

One yogi, who works in the foster care program, said she wanted to “not get caught up in the bureaucracy” and remember that foster care children “are people just like we are.”

“I commit to learning more about foster care because I really don’t know much about it,” Thornton said.

Arnold, the Naropa student who created the yogathon, is hoping to organize the same event next year and beyond.

Naropa University student Moriah Arnold was of was one of several participants in the Yogathon for Foster Care event at the Boulder County Recycling Center on Saturday. When Arnold was a volunteer with the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services, she came up with the idea for a yogathon to bring more awareness for foster care programs. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )
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