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Live Sonima Tour visits EPISD; tour’s foundation includes yoga, meditation which has been scrutinized by some elsewhere

More than 10,000 El Paso Independent School District students are on a journey of self-discovery this week.

They didn’t have to go very far, thanks to the Sonima Foundation, which provided the district with a four-day tour to introduce the kids to a different type of education.

The Sonima Foundation is a non-profit public corporation provides health and wellness practices for under-served students.

The Live Sonima Tour is hosted by XM Radio host Caroline Jones and best-selling author, teacher of identity development, and partner to Oprah, Stedman Graham speaks to the kids.

Every EPISD sophomore, junior, 1,000 freshmen and 1,000 seniors take it all in.

“You really need to determine who you are and who you want to be and you define those roles,” said EPISD spokesperson Melissa Martinez.

Meant to motivate and inspire, the Live Sonima Tour combines the performing arts with character development. The program begins with Jones’ acoustic storytelling, followed by Graham’s identity workshops.

Last year alone the Sonima Foundation reached 75 schools across the country, this being their first tour in El Paso.

“We don’t get opportunities like this everyday,” Martinez said. “They offered to pay for everything.”

Sonima paid for renting out the Don Haskins Center, Abraham Chavez Theatre and El Paso High School auditorium over four days, although the foundation would not tell ABC-7 how much they spent. The foundation declined to comment for this story.

EPISD is hoping this relationship between the two will continue, something that would be made possible by receiving a Sonima grant that could help the district implement their health and wellness curriculum. The foundation did this for a southern California school district in 2013.

The Encinitas Union School District board in San Diego came under fire for accepting a more than $2 million from Sonima to pay for health and wellness curriculum that incorporates yoga and meditation to minimize stress and improve academic performance.

But one couple sued the district, arguing the ashtanga yoga promoted a non-Christian religion, which violated their religious freedom. The district said it was secularized and ended up winning the case.

“It is our hope that at the end of the week they will be so pleased with El Paso and EPISD that they will want to continue that relationship in the future,” Martinez said.

Currently Sonima curriculum is in four school districts in California, one in New York and Florida, and used in many Houston ISD schools.

The tour continues Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Chavez Theater.

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