Meeting friends, needs

Emily Pells (in wheelchair) joined a Best Buddies Hawaii yoga class conducted by Skeeter Tichnor on Saturday at Lumeria Maui in Makawao. The free class drew 20 high school students in the program that creates one-on-one partnerships with students who are disabled and those who are not.

Certified Anusara yoga instructor Tichnor specializes in teaching people with disabilities. Along with the class, Lumeria also provided fresh organic juices and a relaxing aromatherapy experience along with live music to set the soothing mood. Yoga has been shown by researchers to reduce aggressive behavior, social withdrawal and hyperactivity in children with special needs, a Best Buddies news release said.

Kaua Coelho (left) and Nami Ooki participate in Tichnor’s yoga class.

Best Buddies serves more than 370 students between the ages of 12 and 21 at six schools in Maui County. The program provides support to youths with intellectual and developmental disabilities by matching students in one-to-one friendships with their nondisabled peers. Best Buddies Hawaii participants include people with Down syndrome, autism, traumatic brain injury and multiple disabilities.