NGO “Miegantys drambliai” was founded as a climbing gym in 2007. Since then it is organizing climbing training, climbing camps and events in Kaunas. Moreover it promotes different kinds of social activities – climbing for children of daycare centers (children with behavioral problems) and other social organizations, organizes canis-therapy activities, climbing for people with various disabilities. Since 2014 “Miegantys drambliai” organize climbing for children and adults with various disabilities. There is continuous work with groups in climbing training for kids with special needs and disabilities now. Since 2016 together with a local NGO for disabled people we are organizing climbing and art therapy activities in the gym. In 2015 Miegantys drambliai started inclusion of disabled kids and teenagers to usual climbing training and camps.
“Acro Kaunas” is an acro-yoga project which started in 2016. Since then, it has taken the forms of regular classes, workshops, open jams, and participation in various sports and community events. The events include “Kaunas Capital of Culture 2020” picnic, Šilainiai neighborhood day, Kaunas Fluxus hill climbing, health day in a local school, Putvinskio street community day, a class for students of Kaunas University of Technology, etc. Probably the most successful of our activities was the 2017 and 2018 free acro-yoga summer classes in Kaunas Nemunas’ island park, organized in cooperation with the Kaunas municipality department of sports and public health. These weekly classes attracted dozens of citizens of various ages to experiment with the new form of movement, communication, and cooperation, livening up the public space and encouraging spontaneous community-forming.
Kaunas is a city where acro-yoga is little-known and where widespread conservative views about society and sports prevent many people and institutions from discovering various body practices as a way of creating new communities, connecting people of different backgrounds, and improving not only public health but also public communication. Thus, we, as a small collective of acro-yoga teachers/practitioners, find it important to engage with different audiences and promote our practice as more than just a fancy after-work hobby for the well-off. We find that acro-yoga has a lot of potentials to nurture not only the body but also virtues and skills such as attentive communication, respect, and care for the other, cooperation, non-violent body contact, and teamwork.
So far, we have worked with the general citizenry of Kaunas, which has been rewarding, and yet we feel that those who might perhaps most benefit from acro-yoga are not being reached. In part due to the general social isolation of underprivileged groups, in part due to our own limited confidence in being able to teach and find rapport within these groups, the gap remains. We expect that participation in the AcroYoga & Social Inclusion training course will provide us with the necessary skills, knowledge, and confidence to approach some of the socially excluded or discriminated groups in our area to share acro-yoga with them and foster mutual understanding and empowerment.