Yoga: Fun for the whole family!

Yoga: Fun for the whole family!

Contributor: Natashja Rinaldo, Unity Yoga

Unity. That is the purpose of yoga; to connect our mind, body and breath. Yoga has so many
positive outcomes for our children! This summer North Light campers had such a terrific time in
yoga class; we moved our bodies in ways that felt good– we stretched, we danced, played and
breathed. Here are just a few reasons why you should keep doing yoga, all year long.

5 Benefits of Yoga for Children:

  1. Aids in Physical Development: Children are growing, and yoga helps them create
    an awareness of their bodies. It improves their balance/coordination, strengthens
    their muscles and increases flexibility. All of which can decrease the chance of
    bodily injury over time.
  2. Increases Emotional Regulation: Yoga teaches children discipline, which in turn
    helps to lessen negative behaviors. Breathing exercises practiced in yoga
    classes result in a calming of their nervous system too. This reduces feelings of
    anxiety and worry and improves overall well being.
  3. Improves Memory & Concentration: Yoga allows children to slow down and be
    mindful. It requires focused attention, which then translates to improving their
    ability to concentrate. Imagine how much this skill would assist them in school!
  4. Boosts Self-Esteem: Children gain a sense of confidence when they try a new
    posture. They feel empowered and it reinforces to them that they can do
  5. It’s FUN: Children’s yoga classes are often filled with games, catchy tunes,
    sensory toys and more. Yoga allows children to be joyful, silly and creative; all in
    the name of health and fun.

    Now, take a few mindful moments and give Miss Natashja’s 5-Finger Breathing Exercise a

    For more information about yoga for children, connect with our partners on
    Instagram: @unityyogaguru or @namaste.natashja.

    Have a happy, healthy & peaceful school year.

Pivoting Pathways: NLCC & Mental Health

Pivoting Pathways: NLCC and Mental Health

North Light has partnered with Pivoting Pathways and Northern Children’s Services to emphasize the importance of mental health and coping skills with our campers. Read on for more from Pivoting Pathways and stay tuned for information from Northern Children’s Services.

Kim Ochester, Pivoting Pathways

Pivoting Pathways offers “Traditional Services in Nontraditional Platforms” and has had the opportunity to get to know some of the kiddos here at North Light. Meeting with two different age groups weekly, we have created a curriculum around the specific targeted needs of these kiddos with the mission of providing essential tools and life skills that will help them throughout their life time.  This summer’s curriculum began with discussions about what the group would consist of, followed by conversations about the importance of emotional expression and emotional intelligence in a way which our groups can understand. We identified our coping skills (things we do to help us calm down when angry or upset) and challenged each other to try new ones that work for us. This past week we focused on anger being a feeling we all face, but must choose to work through in healthy ways so we don’t face negative consequences.  Pivoting Pathways realizes our kiddos are growing up in a challenging world and we want to help equip them with the skills to navigate these difficulties to the best of their abilities.  We often care for our physical health and forget to actively address our mental health, which can catch up with us and negatively impact us in the long run.  Pivoting Pathways is here to remind us that Mental Health Matters and to seek help and support in any time of need.

Here an activity we’ve done in group that you can try with your kiddos at home!

Take a deep breath to begin. 

5 – LOOK: Look around for 5 things that you can see, and say them out loud.

4 – FEEL: Pay attention to your body and think of 4 things that you can feel, and say them out loud.

3 – LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds – Say them out loud.

2 – SMELL: Say two things you can smell – If you can’t smell anything at the moment or you can’t move, then name your 2 favorite smells.

1 – TASTE: Say one thing you can taste- if you can’t taste anything, then say your favorite thing to taste.

Take another deep breath to end.

This activity helps ground us (bring us back to the moment) so that we can regroup and move forward.

Important Numbers:
24/Hr Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Service 215-686-4420
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255)
Red Nacional de Prevenci’on del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454

For more information on Pivoting Pathways and how they can help you and your family, call Kim at 215-686-4420 or North Light at 215-483-4800.

North Light & Villanova: A match made in Manayunk.

North Light & Villanova: A match made in Manayunk.

The North Light Villanova Alliance (NOVAL) began in 2003, spearheaded by the late John Kelly and former Executive Director Irene Madrak.

NOVAL is an innovative partnership that couples the resources of a major university with the needs of a direct service, neighborhood based community center.

“A university is the perfect example of resources and minds at work,” says Meghan Dietzler, Director of Campus Ministry Local Service at Villanova. “We shouldn’t only be supporting ourselves.”

The NOVAL partnership touches all aspects of North Light’s programming and can benefit our students and families throughout all seasons of their lives.

Our Villanova volunteers work with our KidZone students, even during a pandemic, to offer educational and emotional support. NOVAL students also work with our children to teach them important life skills that they can carry with them, like when RUIBAL came to the facility to teach kids how to prepare quick and nutritious meals. The College of Nursing develops health-related programming to share with our students, from dental care to mindfulness.

The Villanova involvement doesn’t stop once a child ages out of KidZone. They are active participants in our College & Career Development programs, from college visits to assistance with applications and information about financial aid.

“The first time we did a college visit we had about 5 kids,” said Mary Beth Avioli, a North Light Board Member who is instrumental in the NOVAL relationship. “The last one we did before COVID was up to 60 kids. It was amazing!”

Villanova also supports our Emergency Services Program through food collection and donation. Whether it be the Greek Week canned goods drive or our holiday programs, the NOVAL partnership affects many members of our community. Last year, Villanova donated over 250 meals, from appetizers to desserts, to our program participants.

NOVAL isn’t just limited to our targeted services. Representatives from the Villanova College of Engineering have helped North Light with capital projects, like the HVAC system. Students from the School of Business are currently working with our strategic planning committee to fine tune the newest North Light Strategic Plan.

This relationship is truly reciprocal.

“NOVAL allows our students to get out into the community,” says Meghan. “They form that deeper connection with people outside of the University and bring that energy back to campus.”

“[It] redefined ‘service’ for me, says Katherine Dzwonczyk, a former NOVAL volunteer.  “Prior to this program, I often thought of ‘service’ solely as grand acts and big sacrifices. I had seldom interpreted ‘service’ as small acts, [like helping a student with their homework.] Spending time with the students each week was very impactful, as it encourages trust and promotes reliability in the developing relationship.”

Schuylkill Center: Roxborough’s Backyard

Schuylkill Center: Roxborough’s Backyard

When you enter the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, it is easy to forget that you’re within city limits. Covering 340 acres, including 3 miles of hiking trails, it feels like you have been transported to another world, one without city buses, honking horns, and cracked sidewalks.

Founded in 1965, it is one of the oldest urban environmental education centers in the country, but many locals don’t know about the opportunities in their own backyard.

“We are a hidden gem in Philadelphia,” says Eduardo Duenas, Manager of School Programs at the Schuylkill Center. “It’s rare to have a privately owned but still public space. And it’s free!”

The Schuylkill Center operates in four main areas: environmental education, environmental art, land stewardship, and wildlife rehabilitation. The staff works to educate everyone from children to adults on not only the ecology of our own neighborhood, but our impact on the environment worldwide. They are also the facilitators of a true Manayunk/Roxborough experience: The Toad Detour!

Even though they offer their own summer camp at the facility, the staff at the Schuylkill Center will be regularly making the trek to North Light this summer, bringing along their love of nature and some creepy, crawly, and furry friends!

“We have a lot of exciting things planned for our time at North Light this summer,” says Eduardo. “We are going to be working with the students on everything from a garden revamp to climate change education.”

The programs will be tailored to the ages of the students, so no child will feel left out of the experience. Younger children will start by learning about different parts of a plant, while the older children will be getting their hands dirty alongside the staff to grow food, herbs, and even plant a pollinator garden.

“We want to teach the students that every little thing matters, something as small as turning off the water while you brush your teeth makes a big difference in the long run,” says Eduardo. “We want to educate this generation to be environmentally responsible adults. We want them to be ready for a changing future.”

To learn more about the Schuylkill Center for environmental education, visit their website. The North Light summer camp runs from June 28 to August 20. Spots are still available! To learn more and register, check out our website or contact Renee at

MDC: Developing A Community

While you can’t be everything to everyone, the Manayunk Development Corporation (MDC) makes a good effort. To local businesses, MDC is a strong advocate for the development of the Main Street business district and beyond. To neighborhood residents, they’re the people who plan fun events like Stroll the Street and Arts Fest. To North Light, they are a long-term partner that is always advocating for and supporting our programs and participants.

The MDC formed in 1992 as a nonprofit corporation with a focus on the development of businesses as well as the community. MDC is responsible for the management, promotion, and positive development of the Manayunk business district. MDC works with other civic and community organizations in the Manayunk area to plan and implement programming and physical improvement projects of interest to both businesses and local residents. Right now, you’ll see their fun signs lining Main Street as the City of Philadelphia performs a full streetscape renovation (think new pedestrian lighting, crosswalks, and sidewalk bump outs). Don’t worry, your favorites are still open and a more walkable Main Street is on its way!

Have you laughed at these clever signs on Main Street? If so, you can thank MDC for that!

“We are grateful for the generous and collaborative support we received from both MDC and our Manayunk businesses. Many of our programs, particularly around the holidays, wouldn’t be successful without them. We consider it an honor to be a part of a community with a vibrant and active business corridor, thanks to MDC,” says Krista Wieder, Executive Director of North Light. For many years, MDC has been a strong partner for North Light. They offer monetary support, advertising and collaborative events and opportunities for the North Light community. Have you ever taken the Arts Fest shuttle? Chances are you were on a bus manned by North Light volunteers!

In partnership with MDC and other local organizations and businesses, NLCC distributed over 700 meals for Manayunk Meals & More!

“North Light Community Center is such a crucial asset to our community,” says Gwen McCauley, Executive Director of MDC. “We cherish and appreciate the partnership we’ve cultivated with them throughout the years, from the annual holiday meal program Manayunk Meals and More to running our shuttles during the Manayunk Arts Festival as a way for them to fundraise for their organization. We are always looking for more ways to partner with them.”

While COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in MDC’s event plans for another year, you’ll start to see a slow return to normalcy, beginning with Stroll the Street on May 6! Join your neighbors for drink specials, appetizer discounts, musicians, and local vendors along Main Street. Don’t forget to stop by the North Light table on May 13 and May 20!