Close to 300 racers came out for Project Little Warrior’s (PLW) fourth annual 5K and one-mile walk on a hot May 22 at Cooper River Park.
The run featured vendors, a food truck, facepainting and music, and had started as a way to raise funds for the nonprofit.
Project Little Warrior started in 2017 as a way to raise funds for the nonprofit and bring yoga to students from kindergarten through 12the grade. Marialana “Ria” Curry and her late business partner James Gaddy came up with the idea after the former was invited to teach yoga to students at Davis Elementary School in Camden.
The school loved Gaddy’s energy, and invited him back several times before he decided he wanted to turn the effort into a nonprofit to continue teaching yoga to students.
While the office is based in Haddonfield, all of PLW’s yoga classes take place at individual schools. What started as two schools has grown to eights across Camden and Burlington counties. From schools in Camden to those in suburbs like Cherry Hill West, the nonprofit works with more than 500 students and hopes to continue expanding into the Philadelphia area.
Though Curry hadn’t always loved doing yoga, Gaddy was enthusiastic about doing a 200-hour certification course and encouraged her to continue with classes.
“I always trusted what he said,” Curry recalled. “ … By shifting my mentality, I definitely started to realize there’s something to this. It’s bigger than me, and it’s definitely allowed me to see life in a different view.”
When PLW works with schools, the sessions are around 45 minutes of power vinyasa, which Curry describes as yoga with a faster beat and faster flow movement.
“You’re breathing alongside with doing the yoga and moving from posture to posture at a quicker speed than just holding (each pose) for five minutes long,” she explained. “Aside from teaching the actual physical yoga, we provide (students) with different tools (like breathing techniques) and mechanisms for mindfulness, self love and confidence.”
Collingswood resident Aubrey Newcomb served as the MC for the 5K and has been with PLW group since its inception, going from volunteer to the current director of PR and marketing. She also practices yoga, and noted that through it, she’s learned to practice her breathing during stressful events.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are, yoga is for everybody,” Newcomb said. “How do you know you’re doing it right? By showing up. That’s the first step, walking through that door, grabbing that mat and sitting down.
“We don’t ask for perfection, we just ask for consistency.”
To learn more about Project Little Warriors, visit www.projectlittlewarriors.com.