Open Up teaches mindfulness tools and movement practices, centering people living with disabilities.
Open Up's mission is to teach individuals to build a better sense of self. Through inclusive, engaging, enjoyable activities including yoga and improvisational theater games, participants learn and explore new tools to help navigate social settings.
While yoga and improv are two separate disciplines, they both encourage the development of joy, interconnectivity, and deeper self understanding. Participants of all abilities are welcome! Yoga postures, breathing exercises, and mindfulness activities are tailored to meet individual ability levels. Sessions are centered around bringing levity and joy to exercises that focus on wellness with movement and breath. Our teachers can adapt or support depending on individual needs.
Classes in improv and theater games focus on the social and therapeutic benefits of imaginative, interactive games.
Classes in yoga focus on bringing levity and joy to exercises that focus on wellness with movement and breath.
Sessions are held at different locations around the city and can come to you! All can be tailored to your family, community, workplace or individualized needs.
Interested in setting up a class near you for your community or social group? We do that! All of our classes just need an open room. Contact us and we can discuss how to make that happen!
Founder, Board President
Tessa Karel is a certified teacher of Special Education in Pennsylvania for grades K-12 with a certification in 7-12 Language Arts and a Masters in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies. She graduated from 200 hour teaching program at South Hills Power yoga in 2015 and is the K-5 emotional support/autistic support teacher at the Environmental Charter School. She is passionate about finding ways to help others learn about themselves and engage with others in fun and uplifting ways. Having done this herself through a steady yoga practice and improv classes, she decided to start Open Up to bring the benefits of these practices to a more inclusive audience in Pittsburgh. She won an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Greater Pittsburgh Artist Council to study applied theater for individuals with autism, and you can watch her as a featured teaching artist doing some of this work on the WQED Documentary “The Comedy Confluence.”
Tessa also is a co-founder of the Arcade Comedy Theater's children show, the Penny Arcade, and you can see her perform comedy in her spare time, usually at the Arcade Comedy Theater. Tessa strongly believes that every person has the right to feel not only safe, but welcome and able to fully participate in any life-enhancing activity they so choose. She is proud to be part of Open Up as they work to make Pittsburgh more inclusive.
Co-Founder, Executive Director
Marissa Vogel has a Masters in Education of Students with Disabilities from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a Journalism and Multimedia Degree with Business Certification from Duquesne University. Her years of project management in public health through the Maternal Child Health Bureau and managing growth objectives/directing operations for small businesses, paired with creating and implementing project-based curriculum in Pittsburgh Public District schools, lend well to overseeing the operations of Open Up. Marissa has collected, analyzed, and presented state-regulated data and tailored whole-health case management through the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. She has presented data and research around inclusive, community-based curriculum development to an international audience through Harvard University’s ‘Project Zero’. Her dedication to both local business and education and unwavering support of populations with disabilities ensure that Open Up best serves the community.
Co-Founder, Director of Programming
Megan Sicheri has a marketing degree from The University of Pittsburgh and over a decade of experience working in wellness encompassing the mind and body. As a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer she is dedicated to tailoring mindfulness and movement to persons of all abilities. Everyone deserves to be the happiest, most confident version of themselves and mindfulness is a giant step in that direction. She has certified specializations in working with children and older populations as well as persons with behavioral and cognitive disabilities. She is a lifelong Special Olympics volunteer and advocate for her sister who has autism. Her passion is to make her community a happier, healthier place.
Megan teaches yoga and mindfulness in schools in the greater Pittsburgh area as well as sensory and mindfulness trainings to teachers, parents, and caretakers.