EAST PALO ALTO (KCBS)— A school district in a low-income area of East Palo Alto is hoping to lower dropout rates by launching a health and wellness program that includes yoga.

The Ravenswood School District is launching the program in partnership with the Sonima Foundation.

“What we’re going to do here in Ravenswood is we’re going to provide 3,400 children with a curriculum in health and wellness. The benefits are basically higher attendance, less bullying and violence, higher academics,” said Sonima Foundation’s Executive Director Gene Ruffin.

Ravenswood School District Superintendent Gloria Hernandez Goff said the whole idea of the program is to help students reduce stress and stay more focused.

“I truly believe that this will have a very strong, positive impact on our students’ lives. Ultimately their home life,” she said.

Maya Jones, a student at Costano Elementary School, said that for her, yoga is working.

“We’ve been getting a lot of homework and we’re doing all types of math, so when I get to my breaking point, I come to yoga and it just helps me calm down and realize I can do this and you just have to relax,” she said.

Oakland Raiders star and Defensive End Justin Tuck was also on hand to help kickoff the program.

“These kids have set their mind to be focused on a certain topic and I think the yoga practice does that. I think you see a lot of correlation to why this is helping academically as well as athletically,” said Tuck.

The students’ progress will also be tracked by researchers with Stanford University.

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