This year, Wainwright House celebrates its 70th anniversary, and trustee Yuko Watanabe is determined to keep the nonprofit holistic learning center’s mission alive. “We recognize we are the sum of our parts and we are dedicated to helping everyone in our community achieve physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual equilibrium, especially during the pandemic,” explained Watanabe. To that end, she is spearheading a comprehensive mindfulness program for Rye’s youth. “Our aim is to connect Wainwright’s original mission with a mindfulness program to benefit our young people.”
As Watanabe points out, the well-being and mental health of our youth has been greatly impacted by the isolation and stress that accompanies the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Instead of waiting for the pandemic to be over, we need to pay attention now to the needs of all our youth, whether it’s young athletes who can’t play sports the same way or music students missing out on the joy of performing together,” offers Watanabe, who intends to collaborate with the schools and other community organizations. “We want to make sure that young people know our doors are open to make them feel safe and alive.”
The focus of Wainwright’s new programming is on the physical and mental wellness of teenagers and very young children. This month, the Center is scheduling yoga classes for high school students. In March, Meditation Lab founder and yoga instructor Jennifer Monness will offer mindfulness classes to grades K-2.
Watanabe’s commitment to Rye, where she and her husband have raised their two sons, has been building ever since she witnessed an outpouring of community generosity in 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami swept the Japanese mainland. Rye families were all too eager to support Watanabe, a native of Tokyo.
“The Rye Schools PTO helped me organize fundraising efforts and we raised $34,000 for the children who lost their parents in Japan,” she recalled. “I really saw the miracle of this community and now it’s time for me to do something to say thanks.”
Watanabe’s determination to pay it forward aligned with Wainwright’s mission and the vision of founder Fonrose Wainwright Condit to cultivate human potential generation after generation.