Written by Chloe Schneider – Digital Communications Officer
The Cherry Tree Project is a community organisation based in Stockport and is a proud member of the StreetGames network; as a youth-led community group, they support young people by hosting weekly sessions and holiday activities. The Cherry Tree Project has become an integral part of the local community by providing a safe and inclusive space for personal growth and exploration. The vital work they did to support young people led them to participate in the original StreetGames Yoginis Yoga & Mindfulness pilot, which funded staff members to undergo training in Yoginis yoga and mindfulness. The Cherry Tree Project took what they had learned to empower diverse young individuals aged 14 to 20 by providing them with a safe and inclusive space for personal growth and exploration.
The project’s first programme catered to a group called Bio, comprising non-binary youths, several with mental health challenges, and a few who identified as neurodiverse. The positive impact of the initial programme led to its extension by a month at the request of the enthusiastic participants. The findings and research from this pilot have contributed to understanding the broader context of youth empowerment through yoga and mindfulness.
The Cherry Tree Project recognises the importance of addressing young people’s mental health and well-being. Many participants had experienced social isolation or faced mental health issues while attending mainstream education. The project aimed to create an inclusive environment where young people with various backgrounds and identities could come together, support each other, and feel safe to express themselves. This diverse group included individuals with physical disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and a young transgender man. The safe and supportive atmosphere offered by the project allowed these young individuals to explore their identities and develop self-awareness through yoga practice.
The Cherry Tree Project has actively addressed Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) through comprehensive training jointly delivered by Manchester’s Public Health and the StreetGames training team.
Recognising the importance of understanding and mitigating the impacts of ACEs, the Cherry Tree Project took a proactive approach to equip their staff with the knowledge and skills needed to support young individuals who may have experienced adversity.
Throughout the pilot, the Cherry Tree Project witnessed significant positive changes among the young participants. Through the empowering environment created by yoga and mindfulness practices, participants reported improved mental well-being, enhanced self-esteem, and increased self-awareness. Moreover, the programme received acclaim for its ability to address the needs of neurodiverse individuals, providing them with a space to embrace their unique identities and experiences.
As we reflect on the success of the Cherry Tree Project’s Yoga & Mindfulness Pilot, it’s evident that they’ve achieved the pilot’s objectives and aligned with the broader goals of the StreetGames network. By empowering diverse young people and fostering a sense of belonging and self-discovery, this initiative exemplifies the transformative power of Yoginis yoga and mindfulness in supporting young people’s empowerment and mental health. The Cherry Tree Project’s accomplishments serve as a model for future programmes aimed at uplifting and empowering diverse youth populations, aligning with StreetGames’ ultimate mission of empowering young people through physical activity.