Merrick Avenue Middle School learns to think positively


Kaley Young, a 20-year-old yoga and dance instructor, brought the power of positive thinking and self-love to a Merrick Avenue Middle School on Monday through a workshop aptly titled “She Taught.”

Young’s mother, Beth King Young, herself a yoga and Pilates teacher and believer in the ability of the individual to accomplish great things, died of breast cancer in August 2012. After her mother’s death, Kaley Young decided to continue her mom’s legacy by, one, taking over her school, At the Studio, in Wantagh; and two, creating a young people’s workshop that celebrates her mom and teaches others about positive thinking.

Stephanie Altman, a MAMS phys. ed. teacher, brought the She Taught workshop to the middle school. Altman said she heard about it through her contacts in the East Meadow and Levittown school districts, where Young has offered workshops. Young gave a series of classes at MAMS on March 10, meeting with half of the seventh- and eighth-grade classes, Altman said.

The Herald stopped off at midday for a class. Young had students engage in small-group exercises to illustrate the need to work together, as well as to think positively. “Mean what you say, say what you mean, but don’t say it mean,” Young told the students.

She also offered four simple pieces of advice:

• Take nothing personally.

• Be impeccable with your words.

• Don’t make assumptions.

• Always do your best.

To demonstrate how deeply words affect our thoughts, Young had students drink bottled water from one of two plastic jugs –– one covered in positive words and the other in negative words. Then she asked the students to judge which water tasted better in a blind taste test, for which samples were given to the students in paper cups labeled simply A and B. Words written on the positive jug included “Believe and Compassion.”

Negative words included “Hate and Pain.” A majority of students found that the water from the positive jug tasted better, even though the water samples were identical.

“Think of the words you use throughout the day,” Young implored the students. “Were you positive or negative today? Mean words absorb into our bodies.”

Students concluded the class by lying on the gymnasium floor with their eyes closed, visualizing positive thoughts while soft music played. “Think of three things you’re thankful for today,” Young said. “What are you thankful for today? Appreciate every moment you have on earth.”