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Nov 28, 2017 3:54 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Anna Mirabai Lytton Foundation Looks To Expand Art And Wellness Programs Beyond Springs

A lesson on nutrition during a wellness program supported by the Anna Mirabai Lytton Foundation. COURTESY KATE RABINOWITZ
Nov 28, 2017 4:16 PM

It’s been four years since the memory of 14-year-old Anna Mirabai Lytton inspired an effort to support arts and wellness programs for children in Springs. Now, the foundation named in her honor is looking to expand its outreach.

Rameshwar Das, Anna’s father and the vice president of the Anna Mirabai Lytton Foundation, presented a $5,000 donation to the Springs School at a School Board meeting last week. The donation will help fund programs on photography, nutrition, health and wellness at the Springs School—interests that his daughter had explored before her death.

The foundation has been supporting arts and wellness programs since the 2013-14 school year. Anna died on June 15, 2013, after she was struck by an SUV while riding her bike in East Hampton Village.

Kate Rabinowitz, Anna’s mother and president of the foundation, said on Tuesday that the hope is to bring programs that teach yoga, mindfulness and nutrition to other schools in East Hampton and Sag Harbor.

The foundation has tested the waters at other schools previously, with yoga programs at the John M. Marshall Elementary School last winter and at Pierson Middle School in October. Ms. Rabinowitz said there are “definitive plans” to keep the yoga programs going at these schools, along with adding new programs teaching photography and nutrition.

“We want to reach young people on the East End,” Ms. Rabinowitz said. “There is so much available, yet not a lot of it shows up in kids’ lunches. We want them to understand what healthy eating is.”

In 2015, the foundation helped fund a poetry workshop for eighth-graders with the poet Megan Chaskey at the Springs School. In 2016, there was a photography and poetry project in which fifth-graders could explore, draw, take photos and write poems about their experiences walking the Montauk shoreline. This year, there was a field trip to the Watermill Center for Springs sixth-graders.

The foundation operates as something of a transport for program funding, Ms. Rabinowitz said, explaining that the foundation takes donations and grant money and distributes them as $5,000 donations to schools to pay for teachers of poetry, photography and yoga.

She said the first work the foundation did outside the Springs School was in the winter of 2015—a two-week yoga program at the John M. Marshall Elementary School. Since the programs the foundation supports run only during certain weeks, offering more programs at more schools allows the foundation to do more work throughout the school year.

“It’s like wildflower seeds—you spread them all out and see which ones take,” Ms. Rabinowitz said. “We want to work with different demographics and environments, so this will be about finding what works and what doesn’t work. We don’t want to leave Springs, we just can’t be there full-time and want something to do.”

On top of continuing yoga and photography lessons, Ms. Rabinowitz said she is thinking about other programs, possibly including one in ballroom dancing. She said it’s part of a promise she made to herself a year before her daughter died, when Ms. Rabinowitz heard about the death of a group of girls in a house fire in Connecticut.

“I said, ‘If anything like that ever happened to me, I would throw myself into the service of all children,’” she said. “All I want is to see more children grow, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t in this world.”

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