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STARTTS and the Refugee Yoga Project: fostering mind and body harmony.
The Refugee Yoga Project is a collaborative project with STARTTS and the Vasudhara Foundation, researching the benefits of yoga for refugees who have experienced torture and trauma.
A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald highlighted the work of STARTTS and the Refugee Yoga Project. The STARTTS project manager Danielle Begg , who is also the co-founder with the Vasudhara Foundation, explained the project and its aims.
Danielle was inspired by her experiences in the UK with the Hackney Yoga Project, and sought to create a similar project to help refugees in Australia.
“When I came back to Australia I thought it would be wonderful to be part of something similar here but I couldn’t find anything – classes for refugees simply didn’t exist,” she said.
The project offers eight weekly yoga classes to refugees healing from torture and trauma, with Danielle teaching the classes and STARTTS providing the counsellors and translators.
STARTTS was soon overwhelmed by the success and demand for the program, and recently expanded the program to include children, especially the newly arrived experiencing difficulty trauma, and the loss of home .
An evaluation of the project by STARTTS shows increasingly positive results, with classes having a positive impact on the participants, including reduced symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and depression, The findings of the evaluation were recently presented at the Refugee Trauma Recovery in Resettlement Conference, and will be taken internationally to North American Refugee Health Conference in Toronto in June.
Looking to the future, Danielle is confident about program and it’s growth. An estimated 6000 of Australia’s special intake of and Iraqi refugees settling in Western Sydney,and STARTTS and Danielle will take the program to where it is most needed.