Couple launches youth academy to instill wellness in teens

Couple launches youth academy to instill wellness in teens
Chris Law, left, and Ashlee Shearer are hosting a pilot program at their Encinitas home aimed at instilling wellness in teens. Photo by Tony Cagala

ENCINITAS — So there’s a structure to the journey of self-discovery?

“Absolutely,” said Chris Law. “And it’s definitely through the unlimited aspects of cooperation — cooperating with your fellow man,” he said.

With that idea in tow, Law and co-founder Ashlee Shearer have launched a youth academy for self-discovery called Circles Academy, out of their Encinitas home.

“Each day you’re trying to do your best,” said Law, referring to the cooperative philosophy at the heart of their academy. “And in doing that, we build a tribe of kids that would actually go out and shift our planet because each one of them would understand cooperation is the key.”

For the past several weeks, a group of five teenaged girls, ranging in the ages of 13 to 18, have been participating in the non-accredited pilot program.

On one afternoon, yoga mats lined the stone patio leading to the front of the house where Law and Shearer conduct yoga sessions, placing a focus on the physical aspects of the program. It’s part of a curriculum that stretches over several mind and body topics — everything from exercise and meditation to nutrition to body image and relationships, explained Shearer, a certified holistic health coach.

Law, a former coach and director of the San Diego Beach Volleyball Club, with a degree in Kinesiology from Cal State San Marcos, said that he noticed it becoming more difficult to get kids focused on playing volleyball.

From left: Sophie Ajang, Amber Cassiano, Chloe Boyd, Naomi Ryder and Lauren Cassiano participate in the Circles Academy pilot program. Photo by Tony Cagala

From left: Sophie Ajang, Amber Cassiano, Chloe Boyd, Naomi Ryder and Lauren Cassiano participate in the Circles Academy pilot program. Photo by Tony Cagala

“What they’re doing right now is they’re going from school, where they’re stressed out, into their sport where you think they’re getting no stress. They’re just as stressed out in sport as they are in school,” said Law.

“And their parents literally pick them up like a race car driver and drop them off. And then they pick them up and they drop them off at their music lesson or at home they do three hours of homework. They have no breaks,” he said.

Sophie Ajang, 18, said coming to the academy was a good way for her to get rid of the stresses of school and other influences.

Ajang, who lives outside of Encinitas, said she’s aware that the lifestyle is different here. “So for me, coming here, it gets me to get away from my other reality and just come into focus on my self and my own health, other than worrying about other people,” she said.

Chloe Boyd, 13, said that prior to joining the program, she’d done some yoga and meditating.

The meditation really calms you, she said.

Attending the program, Boyd added that learning more about healthier eating habits and changing the trends of bad things — the things that make you unhealthy — are going to make them more aware of the benefits of all of that.

Throughout the pilot program, the teens said they’ve been taking what they’ve learned back to their friends and family.

In part, that’s what the program is about — everything all coming back around.

That, Law said, is why the academy is called Circles.

Program details may be found online at circlesacademy.org.

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