It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years. I was 9 when I started this journey. As I think about the past 7 years and how far we’ve come, I realized that as I’ve grown up, so has Wuf Shanti. It all started with a drawing that I made to honor my Great-Grandpa. Now, we’re a non-profit organization, the Wuf Shanti Children’s Wellness Foundation. What used to be only yoga, meditation, and positivity, has expanded to include mindfulness, social emotional learning, compassion, self-care, and empathy. What was only a focus on mental and physical health is now a crusade to stop violence to self and others and make the world a better place. We started as a mindful kids character for young children and now teach 3-17 year-olds on topics ranging from diversity, inclusion, communication, kindness, stress reduction, self-love, self-awareness, self-regulation, positive psychology, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and so much more.
In the past 7 years, we’ve written 7 books, made more than 100 videos, developed a mobile app, recorded songs, interviewed experts, created a curriculum, traveled to schools and hospitals with our mindful mascot, founded interest-based clubs for schools, founded the Partners for Peace interview series and podcast, founded the Mindful Kids Peace Summit for teens, got certified in Kidding Around Yoga, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Teens (MBSR-T) by Stressed Teens, and the Emotion Code by Discover Healing, designed clothing and yoga mats, became a youth advocate for getting mindful SEL & mental health curriculum into our education system, wrote a chapter for Chicken Soup for the Soul, was on NBC DayTime Show and the Making a Difference segment, was in Psychology Today, goop Magazine, CASEL and Tiger Woods Foundations’ newsletters, and many other great publications, was on Maroon 5’s FB page, became the youngest meditation instructor at Yoga International, been invited to serve on the Superintendent’s Mindfulness Initiative, spoken to groups of teachers, principals, guidance counselors, and students, gave a TEDxYouth Talk, and so much more.
I’m so grateful for every single experience I’ve had, for all that I’ve learned, for every mentor that has provided guidance, all the people I’ve met, every expert I’ve had the honor to speak with, every child or teen we’ve been able to help in any way. It’s hasn’t always been easy, but even through the tough times, I’ve learned so many great lessons about myself, who I want to be as a human being, and how I want to contribute to the world, and also a lot about connecting with others. And I’m still learning every day. These tools have helped me so much in my daily life to deal with stress and cope with emotions, and I’m glad I can share it with others.
I owe a lot of this to my great-grandpa, who taught me the main mantra that started it all, Think Well to Be Well, to my grandpa, who taught me to Look on the Bright Side and Never Quit (and who I miss so much), and to my Mom, who has worked so hard to help me and always supports me. I’m not sure what the future holds or if I’ll want to do this forever, but I know whatever I do, it’ll be something I love and something that helps others. Happy Birthday, Wuf Shanti. Thank you for all you’ve given me, and for all you’ve given to others.
Wuf Shanti: www.wufshanti.com