In 2001, an idea was conceived by Jennifer Schelter, MFA. As a Yoga Alliance certified teacher and training facilitator, Jennifer’s dream was to combine her passion for yoga with her professional training in a way that would benefit others. She realized this through her creation of “Yoga Unites,” a nonprofit organization that promotes and fosters community by providing a forum for people to publicly acknowledge the power everyone possesses to positively transform their world. On Dec. 2, after months of planning, Jennifer organized her first Yoga Unites event to raise awareness for the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia. It was held at Chestnut Hill Academy and over 200 people attended, leading the Chestnut Hill Local to write it was “the largest yoga class ever presented in the Delaware Valley.”
The success of that event gave Jennifer a vision. She would conduct the next Yoga Unites event from Philadelphia’s most iconic location, the steps of the Museum of Art, and it would again benefit a deserving organization. The centerpiece of the event would use a curriculum she developed that would incorporate meditation, yoga and music to powerfully effect the connection between mind, body, soul and community.
Through her friend and student Courtney Kapp, Jennifer’s vision became a reality. Courtney had been diagnosed with breast cancer and wanted to use her home as a place where women could form a support network through the practice yoga. She asked Jennifer to teach the class and also introduced her to Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s then executive director (now chief executive officer) Jean Sachs. Together, the three women co-founded what is now one of Philadelphia’s best known events: Yoga on the Steps.® Shortly thereafter, Yvette Pecoraro and her spirited band of muscians began performing Kirtan accompaniment for the event.
Under Jean’s direction, Yoga on the Steps has become LBBC’s signature education and fundraising event. It provides a way for communities to stand in solidarity with women affected by breast cancer - all while experiencing the healing benefits of yoga. In 2012, Yoga on the Steps events were held in Philadelphia, Denver and Washington, DC. LBBC plans to continue to introduce the program to additional cities as part of a national expansion initiative.