Calumet Center & Lincoln CenteR

Founded with the goal of providing dignity and respect to those that had been institutionalized and forgotten, ACE Academy, sponsored by Spectrum Human Services, seeks to empower and strengthen individuals, families and communities at two locations in Highland Park - the Calumet Center and the Lincoln Center. They wisely have identified that yoga, mindfulness & meditation provide tools to young men in the juvenile justice system to learn, heal, grow & develop the ability to re-integrate into their communities. YBDF has sponsored a program at the Calumet Center since February 2017 and at the Lincoln Center since July 2018.

ACE Academy is a strict discipline academy located on the campus of Spectrum Juvenile Justice Services, a residential treatment facility for young men ages 12 to 18. The Academy, established on September 28, 2007, was founded on the belief that all children can learn if provided a nurturing and challenging environment where expectations are high and support is bountiful.  As a strict discipline academy ACE Academy is a highly specialized environment catering specifically to the needs of students who, for any number of reasons, have already disengaged from learning within a traditional school setting.  The Academy's vision is to work in partnership and cooperation with other agencies that also serve these same students.

The young men repeatedly express their appreciation for the dedication and guidance of YBDF instructor, Matthew Darling — Matthew is committed to exposing the practice of yoga to individuals of all ages and backgrounds throughout metro Detroit. Matthew approaches his daily yoga and meditation practice as a foundational component of his life, Matthew is the epitome of an individual who leads a healthy lifestyle in mind, body and spirit. He brings a sense of individualized teaching to each student that extends beyond the yoga room. Through his compassionate, light-hearted and spirited instruction, he inspires each student to open themselves to the discoveries and truths that yoga reveals.

Matthew presented each participant a certificate of completion at the completion of the second session which included the series of Asanas taught in the class each week. The young men were grateful to have the illustrations so they could continue to practice on their own.

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YBDF Instructor Matthew Darling explains to a Calumet Prison inmate how to continue building his "asana" practice in his pod. Asanas are body positions used along with breathwork in yoga to build strength, flexibility and self-awareness.

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Out of my whole entire life I never once was introduced to yoga until I came to Calumet. To me, when I first started I didn’t like it... I didn’t [give up] and a week went by and I gave it [another] chance. The teacher helped me step by step and made each class worth going to... Thank you for the opportunity.
— Crispin