Pamela Leal lost her daughter Bailey to suicide at the age of 17 in 2013. Bailey was a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Prior to the loss of Bailey, a series of events had led her to become a Yoga Instructor.
The life lessons taught from Yoga, armed her with coping skills and awareness that Pam feels EVERY CHILD is entitled to.
One of Leal’s biggest goals is to create positive support groups where students can connect and develop relationships.
Leal says that having a community helps her cope. “I have Boca, Parkland and Coral Springs lifting me up all the time; I feel it and I use that,” she says. “It allows me to be authentic, and I want to give back to them. For me, it’s like a pay it forward. Bailey’s work has just begun.”
Leal currently offers Yoga in the Park every Saturday at Pine Trails Park. This fall, she plans to invite topic-knowledgeable speakers to discuss different types of mental health disorders after each class. Speakers will include pediatricians to advise about the early signs of these disorders. Friends of Leal’s that at one point attempted to commit suicide, but fortunately overcame, will also share their stories. “There’s just too many,” Leal says. “I personally know seven suicides in the last three years within a 5-mile radius.”
In addition to the weekly classes, Leal instructs a yoga course to students at North Broward Prep. She is also hired by coaches to teach yoga to local athletic teams. Although she instructs each group differently, her main goal is to show students how to quiet their minds.
Madison Leal is a current senior attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On May 21st, 2013 she lost her older sister’s Bailey, to suicide. Following her sister’s death, Madison has dedicated her life to weaving Bailey’s journey into her own. She passionate spreads suicide awareness through the power of yoga. In her junior year, Madison conducted an active 30-week research study on the effects of hatha yoga in reducing teen anxiety, in which she came to the conclusion that yoga does in fact reduce anxiety levels amongst teens. Each year, Madison speaks at the annual “Yogathon” event where all the proceeds go to local mental health facilities. In one of her speeches, she emphasized to the crowd, “No matter how dark life gets, you too, will survive.” This quote has served purpose to her community of Parkland, Florida, and she aims to spread her message to communities across the world.