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WHY WE MATTER

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How a child copes with stress in early life is critical to future success. Research shows that children living in poverty are more likely to experience prolonged toxic stress that can have a permanent effect on cognitive ability, physical and mental health, and academic achievement. Headstand equips children with tools and skills to offset the physical and emotional tolls of such stress. By learning to control their body’s stress response, children become more resilient, better able to learn, and more likely to succeed.

The need for such skills has never been greater. The rate of children living in poverty has soared in the past decade. In California — home to the nation’s largest public school system — the student poverty rate is 50%, with more than three million children qualifying for federal free and reduced-price lunch. At the same time, fewer than half of California public schools provide the mandated number of physical activity minutes. Children in low-income environments have less access to physical activity programs, after-school sports, movement classes, and therapeutic support than their middle-class peers do. And they are more likely to suffer from hyperactivity, lethargy, and childhood obesity.

All students benefit from learning how to cope with stressful situations, but children living in poverty are in particular need because of these greater challenges. Add in the pressure of a rigorous charter school curriculum and their need becomes even greater. The stress management skills taught by Headstand help improve academic performance and also go beyond the school years to help throughout college, career, and life. This is a key component for student success that is missing in most traditional public and charter school curriculums.

A growing body of research shows the link between toxic stress in early childhood, poverty, and academic achievement.