Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Teens Learn Yoga, Wellness at Creative Suitland

While thousands of D.C.-area residents either slept or relaxed at home during the Fourth of July weekend, four teenagers spent about an hour outside learning yoga.

Jilly Esquivia, Da’Shira McCullom, Layah Stoutamire and Zya Berlack each stood on one leg, conducted a “warrior pose” and sniffed mint and vanilla oil while laying on their backs to relax their minds.

The teenagers participated in a “CreateTEENS” summer workshop on Saturday, July 3 at Creative Suitland. The yoga and wellness activity, led by instructor Shannon Martin, will run every Saturday through Sept. 4.

“I definitely enjoyed myself. It was very relaxing,” said Layah, 13, who finished her eighth-grade year at Benjamin Foulois Creative and Performing Arts Academy in Morningside. “It helped me with balancing and tuning into my inner self.”

Saturday’s free session connects with two other weekly summer activities for youth ages 13 to 19, also at Creative Suitland through September.

Every Thursday, starting at 5 p.m., teens can “Dance Out LOUD” learning hip-hop, African, modern and other forms of dance. On Fridays, also at 5 p.m. a session entitled “The Art of Music” will feature music and the art of songwriting as well as art and fashion.

The program is sponsored by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Division.

“That was the target age group . . . so they can feel there is a space that’s just for them [and] that’s rare,” said Martin, who also works as a school psychologist and manages a wellness program called Breathe & Bloom.

As for Saturday’s yoga lesson, the smiles on the four girls’ faces upon its conclusion said it all.

Jilly and Da’Shira, both 14, attend Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville. They, along with Layah and their instructor, surprised Zya with well wishes. She turned 13 on July 4.

Zya, who also studies dance, showcased some of her flexibility on the mat with the various yoga poses.

“It was really nice to see people and have a social interaction with them,” said Zya, who added she’s ready for moving on to the eighth grade in the fall at Greenbelt Middle School.

“I’m not really sure if I’m coming back again but I’m going to really try. It was easy to be friends with them,” she said.

For more information, or to register for any of the remaining summer sessions, go to www.creativesuitland.org/createteens.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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