Grand Island Public Schools Success Academy had a day that some might say was G.O.A.T. – literally and figuratively, as kids and adults alike had the greatest of all times with kids of a furry nature.
Five baby goats and one yoga instructor from Shepherd’s Rest Goat and Sheep Rescue came to Grand Island from Pickrell, Nebraska for two “goat yoga” sessions with students and staff members.
Goat yoga has become a popular trend the last few years, this being Grand Island Public Schools first foray into the fitness fad.
It went over well, each session ended up having more participants than anticipated, said Success Academy Principal Ken DeFrank. “Our plan was 10 at a time and we ended up doing about 15 each session.”
Those lucky participants learned yoga breathing techniques and a few poses – some of which involved interacting with the goats. Baby goats got to be held and balanced on participants’ backs. Some of the goats milled about the yogis, munching on grass – or participants’ clothing.
Studies have shown interacting with animals is a stress reliever. A study in the scientific journal “Psychological Reports” found interacting with a service dog for as little as 15 minutes reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol in study participants.
While this is the first time goat yoga has come to the Success Academy, it’s not the first time animals have been utilized for students’ well-being, DeFrank said. “We’re always talking about therapy and reaching out to kids. We’re really big fans of pet therapy. It works.”
The timing for goat yoga was intentional as the first quarter of school draws to a close, DeFrank said.
“We wanted to end the nine weeks on a positive note,” he said.
Positivity is pivotal to the Success Academy, DeFrank said. It’s something faculty and staff members work on closely together.
“Most of the stuff that we do is talking and sharing ideas,” he said. “It truly is a team effort.”
Those efforts are going to bring goats back to the academy, DeFrank said. “It’s a very positive experience for the kids.”
Jessica Votipka is the education reporter at the Grand Island Independent. She can be reached at 308-381-5420.