New Leaf Yoga Foundation

New Leaf Yoga Foundation is a charitable organization supporting the empowerment and well-being of youth by making mindfulness and yoga-based practices accessible in some of the least-serviced environments.

Our Impact Why We Exist

New Leaf Yoga Foundation’s mission is to increase the accessibility of mindfulness & yoga-based programs to youth in order to support them in cultivating healthy, positive, non-violent engagement with themselves and others. Drawing on their capacity to heal and thrive, yoga and mindfulness offers youth tools for cultivating self-awareness, emotional resiliency, the ability to respond rather than react, and the opportunity to tap into a sense of personal empowerment.

Many young people experience trauma and adversity in the form of experiences such as community violence, poverty, abuse, neglect, and systematic oppression but do not have readily available resources to work with the effects of these experiences. New Leaf's mandate is to increase the accessibility of mindfulness-based tools which have been shown to be effective ways to work with chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of adversity. 

Our Story What We Do

Founded in 2007, New Leaf is the first organization of its kind in Canada offering long-term, mindfulness and yoga-based support to youth between the ages of 9 and 22 through programs in schools, youth justice settings and marginalized communities. All classes are offered in a trauma-informed and inclusive approach.

Over the past 8 years, New Leaf has supported hundreds of youth in the GTA and southern Ontario and prides itself on collaborations with more than 20 community partners including Toronto District School Board, Breaking the Cycle and Pathways to Education.

Our sessions are offered in a way that is accessible and relevant for youth and the unique challenges they face in their lives, as well as across cultural and religious beliefs.

Through facilitated dialogue, mindfulness-based activities and movement, youth learn to practice noticing how they feel, pausing before reacting and teaching themselves how to self-soothe in times of stress or emotional turmoil.

Program Goals                      

●      Build self­regulation skills

●      Develop ability to manage life’s ups and downs in positive ways

●      Cultivate a sense of self-­awareness

●      Improve self­-esteem and physical, mental and emotional well­being

●      Decrease impulsivity

●      Heighten a sense of focus and calm

In 2014, New Leaf reached 450 youth in 23 weekly sessions at 17 program sites and saw an 80% retainment rate across our programs, which means that the majority of youth who attend our program stay in it for the long term.Read more about the imact of New Leaf's work in this Toronto Star article:

“Yoga has impacted me in such a positive way. Before I had anger issues - arguing and getting into trouble both at school and at home. Since doing yoga it’s allowed me to release my anger in a more positive way - through the breath…. I might have the same amount of stress, but I handle it differently now.” Chris (TDSB student, New Leaf participant)

“We have noticed that students who have been a part of the group have had greater success with their studies (credit accumulation) and greater success at managing conflict within our building, their homes and their community.” Wendy Blain, Principal (TDSB)


Our Programs How We Do It

New Leaf has developed a unique approach that creates a strong web of support for young people.  We offer programming through the following strategies:

1.Prevention: Yoga for youth in schools

These programs take place within elementary and secondary schools that are located in marginalized/low income regions where resources may be less readily available and/or within specific programs reaching targeted towards youth facing challenges in school. Programs are offered for 25-30 weeks.

2. Intervention: Yoga for youth involved in the justice system

Our intervention programs are offered to young people who are/have in some way engaged with the criminal justice system; this may be within open custody sites, alternative sentencing programs, gang-exit initiatives, or secure custody facilities. Programs are offered for year-long contracts with the goal to run programs for multiple years.

3. Long-term Support: Community-based drop-in programs

Our long-term support approach makes yoga available to youth within their own neighbourhoods. This allows for participants from our schools and custody programs to continue to practice yoga beyond their time in our prevention/intervention initiatives, as well as makes yoga available to a broader range of youth between the ages of 13 and 22 residing in the selected communities.  

Program Components       

a) facilitated group dialogue

b) mindfulness-­‐based activities

c) physical yoga practice (mindful movement)

d) constructive relaxation

e) support for home practice

f) healthy snacks and transportation support (drop-in programs only)

What Youth Are Saying

“Yoga takes away the bad and brings in the good.” - New Leaf participant

“I’m not made all the time. It helps me relax.” - New Leaf participant

What You Can Do

Our priorities are to meet a current wait list of program requests from schools and community agencies, create additional leadership positions for our participants and deepen the impact of our current programs by offering day-long retreats and support for staff at partnerships.

A financial investment in New Leaf Yoga Foundation can support:

Program Expansion

$7,000 funds one school program for 1 year, reaching up to 50 youth.

$10,000 funds one drop-in or youth custody program for 1 year, reaching up to 50 youth.

Program Impact

$1000 funds 1 day-long youth retreat/intensive which includes yoga & mindfulness practices, leadership-building activities, shared meal and certificate of completion.

$1000 funds the development of video and auto content that youth can access for home practice (yoga and mindfulness practices).

Program Development

$5,000 funds a Social Return on Investment evaluation which will support the evolution of our programming and growth of the organization.Donations can be made here: 

Volunteers may contribute in the following areas:

  • serving on the Board of Directors
  • consulting on strategic planning
  • joining our gala & events-planning committee
  • joining our research and development committee

If you are interested in contributing time and expertise, please connect with us at


Laura Sygrove
Executive Director
Charitable Number: 854956794RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 170,000


Join the Conversation