NEW YORK — Middle school students are learning a South Asian folk dance called “Masala Bhangra.” It was started by a Queens woman to improve physical fitness and a sense of belonging.
Sarina Jain is unstoppable.
In 217 AD, Jain teaches the unique Indian cardio fitness program with the following message:
“Take care of your health. This is very important not only physically but also mentally,” Jain said.
He draws inspiration from all ages with bhangra, a folk dance from northwestern India, but he said his real inspiration is his father.
“My world was devastated when my father passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 47,” Jain said.
This life-changing moment led Jain on a path of fitness and community building, and now, as a mother herself, she passes on her father’s message to children.
“Be proud of who you are. Don’t be ashamed of where you come from. Get an education and I want to give that to the kids now,” Jain said.
Thursday was Jain’s first day teaching middle school students, and it went so well that the school is working to have him back in the future.
“It gave them the opportunity to be comfortable with who they are and celebrate who they are,” said MS 217 Principal Patrick Burns.
Jain’s message resonated with many students.
“We connect with the same dance. We become more expressive,” said eighth-grader Katherine Argueta.
“Everyone could do it and no one was judging anyone,” eighth grader Emma Simmons said.
Jain succeeds while having fun and, most importantly, learning an important life lesson.
“Step out of your comfort zone, try something new, be kind to each other and take care of yourself,” she said.