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e90f6e3cd23f815bf1f14777a9cc5377-2The purpose of education is to nurture awareness,” says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, world-renowned founder of Art of Living. He maintains that education should be an enjoyable experience, not a stressful one. But formal education of young minds has become a fiercely competitive process. The stress under which children are expected to perform on exams tends to destroy their innate creativity and originality, the very qualities that are critical to nurturing problem-solving skills needed in today’s globally-linked workplace. In addition, the excessive focus on achieving results often makes children tense and irritable, affecting their memory and concentration, and sometimes leads to stress at home.

This led Shankar to innovate a program, ART Excel (All ’Round Training in Excellence) for youth. The ART Excel program aims to counteract stress, negative emotions, and peer pressure and introduce a balancing effect in children’s lives. The course provides all-round physical, mental, emotional and spiritual training to enhance and facilitate learning. Using special breathing techniques and tools, students learn to attain calmness of mind, which then leads to improved memory and concentration at school. Human values such as cooperation, sharing, service to others, respect for self and others, and compassion, naturally arise from within.

The course curriculum has three main aspects: physical (stretching, yoga, pranayama); mental and spiritual (specific breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, meditation); social (problem-solving strategies, social skills, leadership training, and group dynamics using creative projects like art, drama, literature, song, dance, helping elderly people, planting trees, and cleaning the environment).

The ART Excel curriculum, designed for children and teens from 8-18, nurtures human values and embraces all cultures, religions, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Kids have fun, as they become creative and responsible leaders of tomorrow.

Bay Area venues. April 7-11, weekdays 6:30-8:30 p.m. weekend 9 a.m.-noon. (408) 985-7511.

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