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‘Cosmic Kids Yoga’ star surprises local students

  • Bella Lawlor, center, smiles as she does yoga with Jamie Amor, YouTube star of “Cosmic Yoga Kids,” who surprised her fellow Newton Elementary School kindergartners, during her first visit to a school in the United States.  Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Jamie Amor, YouTube star of Cosmic Yoga Kids, surprised Newton Elementary School Kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States.  Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Jaime Amor, YouTube star of ‘Cosmic Kids Yoga,’ surprised Newton Elementary School kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States.  Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Jamie Amor, YouTube star of Cosmic Yoga Kids, surprised Newton Elementary School Kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States.  Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Jaime Amor, YouTube star of ‘Cosmic Kids Yoga,’ surprised Newton Elementary School kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States. Doing yoga with her were, from left to right, James Shippee, Kenniel Fiqueroa, Nicholas Coulombe and Alice Petcu. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Jaime Amor, YouTube star of ‘Cosmic Kids Yoga’, surprised Newton Elementary School kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States. Doing yoga with her were, from left to right, Bella Lawlor and Lyric Grossett. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

  • Jamie Amor, YouTube star of Cosmic Yoga Kids, surprised Newton Elementary School Kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States.  Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Jamie Amor, YouTube star of Cosmic Yoga Kids, surprised Newton Elementary School Kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States.  Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Jamie Amor, YouTube star of Cosmic Yoga Kids, surprised Newton Elementary School Kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States.  Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Jamie Amor, YouTube star of Cosmic Yoga Kids, surprised Newton Elementary School Kindergartners during her first visit to a school in the United States.  Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—



Recorder Staff
Thursday, June 07, 2018

GREENFIELD — For years now, fourth-grade teacher Jami Witherell has played YouTube clips of the United Kingdom educational show, “Cosmic Kids Yoga.” Come into class? Do some “Cosmic Kids Yoga.” Get ready for a state test? Do some “Cosmic Kids Yoga.” Have a particularly anxious day? Do some “Cosmic Kids Yoga.”

These popular shows on YouTube — with one particular episode getting 5.5 million views — take children through a story, a journey, similar to other children shows. But this show is about yoga and features Jaime Amor, a British actress, by training, turned YouTube star. The scenes are filled with fanciful animations and graphics that help teleport children watching all over the world to a place of Zen.

It has become a ritual of sorts for Witherell’s students, as they come into class in the morning and get ready to do yoga with Amor, while watching the shows displayed on the classroom’s SMART Board at Newton Elementary School in Greenfield.

That’s why Thursday morning was so bizarre.

As Jaelyn Townes, 9, and her peers got ready for an already extraordinary occasion, a chance to Skype with Amor, they greeted her with a loud “Namaste.” Witherell asked her class to say it even louder as the Skype session started to glitch. The door opened and who came in?

Amor, fresh off a flight from the U.K. to Boston, was in Greenfield — the first school in the states she had ever visited.

“I’m going to say to my sister and my mom, because I’ve introduced them to her before, well, not like in person, but I’ll be like, ‘Mom, do you remember Jamie? Well, she came to our school today.’ She’ll probably freak her out,” Jaelyn said.

Classmate Camden Toponce, 10, was out of the room when Amor first surprised Witherell’s class.

“I walked into the room and all of a sudden I was like, ‘Oh!,’” Camden said, showing how he covered his jaw-dropped mouth. “Just the fact that she’s one of our favorite yoga people but she’s a celebrity of course,” Camden explained, made Thursday one of the best days.

The day had been years in the making though.

Witherell, who celebrated her birthday Thursday, as well, has been following “Cosmic Kids Yoga” since 2012, around when it launched. She became a supporter of the program, financially, presented the yoga to her students, and reached out to Amor from time to time with her thanks.

This year, Witherell got the idea of trying to invite Amor to come. Obviously the United Kingdom is not next door. It can be hard enough to get someone from Boston to come down Route 2 — let alone cross the Atlantic Ocean — but she decided to give it a shot.

Witherell sent Amor an email, thanking her again for everything and adding in a small request: Maybe you can come to Greenfield?

Witherell began fundraising through crowdfunding means. While at first it didn’t succeed, a moment of luck struck when a Bitcoin-wealthy person donated millions to the host website, DonorsChoose.org, which is a site devoted to helping teachers fulfill their dreams for their students.

From there, Wetherell kept it a secret, until Friday, when Amor made her appearance. It was all a lesson in gratitude, the oft-recognized teacher said.

“Philosophically, one of the biggest things I always teach them is you always say ‘thank you,’” Wetherell said. “When you show your gratitude and thankfulness for others, they’re more likely to bring it back.”

For Amor, it was a chance to do what she had started doing, before the YouTube videos, teaching yoga to children in schools. While Boston or New York might have seemed more attractive, Newton School was perfect for Amor, who lives in a rural part of the U.K.

“This is a school that’s like what’s happening every day in every corner of the country,” Amor said, who agreed to come to Greenfield on just the price of costs, like transportation and accommodations.

“What was extraordinary about coming here was I understand the reach, there’s something global about it,” Amor said.

For students, it was a chance to see a star from their childhood, from a foreign country, come to life for them.

That was how kindergarten students reacted as they walked into the gym to do some yoga. When they saw Amor, dressed in her signature blue jumpsuit of sorts, their jaws hung, as some of them jumped up and down with an excitement they couldn’t contain.

“I saw you on YouTube!”

“I saw you on the SMART Board!”

As Amor went through her story, many of the children knew it verbatim (“I imagine it’s a bit like being Ed Sheeran,” she joked afterward), and then when she brought in the classic,” Row, row, row your boat,” the whole gymnasium began singing in chorus — proving that “Cosmic Yoga Kids” has, at least a universal reach, if not just across the ocean.