Articles

Do Yoga, Do Good: How One Program Combined Yoga Classes and Charitable Giving

Mon, May 08,2017 @ 09:29 AM
by Kathryn Lynch-Morin |

yoga, recreation, community ed, lifelong learningWhat’s better than a rejuvenating yoga session set in a lovely park?

Doing yoga to support a good cause.

In the summer of 2016, West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation and Community Services (WAWM) launched its 1st Annual 30 Days of Summer Yoga program. This was a creation from program manager Linda Gritzmacher. Rather than charge a fee for the classes, participants were asked to make a donation to the cause of the day. WAWM partnered with 30 different local causes including Disabled American Veterans, local PTAs, the West Allis Special Olympics, and many others. The cause of the day was listed on the 30 Days of Summer Yoga schedule, making it easy for people to find classes that corresponded with a cause they wanted to support.

Participants varied in age from 15 to 75 and demographics of the participants varied based on the day's cause. The instructor, Susie Mellott, made the class accessible to everyone who attended and was able to instruct both students on mats and students who needed to use a chair.

WAWM had a total of 338 participants over the course of 30 days. Two participants even attended 28 of the 30 days. Overall, the 30 Days of Summer Yoga raised $1,145 and 100 percent of the proceeds went to the partner causes. Not only did the program help raise funds but the partnerships formed between WAWM and the local causes featured in the 30 Days of Summer Yoga lineup, helped increase awareness for all groups.

Shelly Strasser, Director of Recreation and Community Services, said the event drew in attendees for several reasons.

“Some wanted to try yoga without making a commitment of joining a class, some just wanted to support the organization of the day, some have taken yoga with Susie during the year and enjoy her classes, some came for therapeutic/wellness reasons (both physical and emotional), some came with friends for fun,” Strasser said. “So the reason for attending varied greatly as did the demographics of attendees.”

All groups worked to promote their day on the 30 Days schedule, and WAWM did a number of marketing and promotion activities including putting an article in the summer activity guide, posting flyers at program locations, adding information on the WAWM website, Twitter, and Facebook pages, promoting on local cable, bulk emailing adult exercise class participants, and partnering with local business contacts.

Strasser said Mellott and Gritzmacher are already working on the 2nd Annual 30 Days of Summer Yoga for 2017.

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