Finding a spark: Yoga club helps promote 4-H


A national organization established more than 115 years ago to introduce new agriculture technologies to rural communities through youth continues to evolve  into so much more.

4-H’ers around the country, including the hundreds in Jackson County, now receive the leadership skills and information needed to tackle the nation’s top issues from global food security, climate change and sustainable energy to childhood obesity and food safety.

On Saturday, a group of local 4-H’ers was given the opportunity to learn about the benefits of the ancient practice of yoga through a Yoga SPARK Club.

“There are lots of different aspects of 4-H,” said Heather VonDielingen with Jackson County 4-H. “We’re focusing on one of the ‘H’s from 4-H — health — today.”

“Yoga has lots of benefits: flexibility, strength, balance as well as helping with self-esteem and listening to others,” said Kelley Gillaspy, owner of Project You yoga studio in Seymour.

“I think a big thing is that I want (4-H’ers) to leave with a better understanding of themselves,” Gillaspy said.

Yoga is an exercise and stretching regiment originally created in India.

While many of the youth in attendance Saturday had never tried an organized yoga class, they said they felt the class was useful.

Brownstown Central High School sophomore Emma Winks was trying yoga for the first time. She said she had tried to learn about it before, because she had heard it would help her with running.

Yoga focuses on breathing and relaxation which can be of benefit to runners.

“It helped me relax and helps me connect with my inner self,” Winks said. “It has been a good experience all around.”

Immanuel Lutheran School sixth-grader Vivienne Siefker also was new to yoga.

“I heard about it through my mom, who heard about it from Heather (VonDielingen),” said Siefker. “I learned a lot about breathing and getting to understand yourself.”

Both participants said they thought yoga was challenging at times but an enjoyable overall.

“SPARK Club is a chance for 4-H members to learn about things that might not be common in their area (of interest) or in their life,” VonDielingen said.

Other SPARK clubs have focused on science, fire safety, the bicentennial and even origami.

“We want people who are interested in other fields besides just strictly agriculture to get involved in 4-H as well,” VonDielingen said.

The Yoga SPARK Club came about because VonDielingen had taken several yoga classes at Gillaspy’s studio on Second Street and asked if Gillaspy would be interested in helping 4-H teach a few sessions to its members. VonDielingen said she’s always looking for volunteers willing to teach different topics.

SPARK Clubs also are a way to remind youth to register for 4-H and for current members to sign up for different projects.

“We want a lot of them to be registered by Jan. 15,” VonDielingen said. “However, we wouldn’t turn anyone away that came a little later.”

Two more yoga SPARK Club programs are planned for 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday and Jan. 27.

Anyone interested in joining 4-H or participating in the other sessions of SPARK Clubs may contact VonDielingen at 812-358-6101 or via email at [email protected].

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