with Fiona Jensen, OTR/L, Founder and Executive Director of Calmer Choice
and Adria Kennedy, MSN, CNP, Program Director at Calmer Choice
When you teach mindfulness in public schools are you in conflict with the First Amendment? Is it being taught in a way that is safe for children? Executive Director and founder of Calmer Choice, Fiona Jensen presents a compelling and thoughtful narrative on her journey navigating through challenging waters after a conservative Christian parent and biblical law firm very publicly articulated concerns with mindfulness being taught in the public schools as First Amendment violation and the allegations of this programming being potentially harmful for children. Fiona speaks honestly and compassionately about the struggle her grassroots non-profit organization, Calmer Choice faced, how they emerged through this huge challenge last year stronger and wiser, and the overwhelmingly support from the community.
The session will cover Calmer Choice’s journey, why they started the organization, what happened over the last year with allegations, the lessons learned, the national recognition and changes made to create a better program. Attendees with leave the session with a clearer understanding of how to ensure what you are teaching is secular, you will gain a clear definition of the First Amendment, and how to avoid potential harm when teaching these skills.
If you teach or want to teach mindfulness in public school this keynote will provide you with the initial knowledge you need to be sure you REALLY are secular. Those looking for a more in-depth look at this may also sign up for the 3 hour workshop titled “Is it REALLY Secular?” And for additional resources on secular mindfulness in education, please visit Dr. Amy Saltzman’s blog.
Fiona Jensen, OTR/L is the Founder and Executive Director of Calmer Choice, a non-profit organization that provides mindful awareness and social and emotional learning programs to students throughout Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Fiona started Calmer Choice in 2009, in response to the emotional devastation experienced by the community after the tragic death of several Barnstable High School students and graduates. To date, Calmer Choice has reached over 11,000 students in 8 different school districts across Cape Cod. Beyond its work with children and adolescents, Calmer Choice provides programming for parents and educators, and collaborates with researchers at Tufts University and Yale University to establish precedents for the impact of mindful awareness on overall health, wellbeing, and academic performance. A graduate of Tufts University, Fiona is a tireless advocate for children, and was featured in the April 2013 issue of Mindful Magazine, Cape Cod Life and various other publications. In 2014, Fiona Jensen received the Courage of Conscience award on behalf of the Peace Abbey, an international humanitarian award presented to the likes of Mother Theresa and Maya Angelou. A quote taken from this award reads “Like other recipients of the Courage of Conscience Award, Fiona took a personal challenge and tragedy and transformed a sense of hopelessness and despair into an organization that would address the issues of violence, suicide and self destructive behaviors in young people.” She has presented the Calmer Choice program at numerous regional conferences, and has been a guest lecturer at Tufts University and University of San Diego.
Adria Kennedy, MSN, CNP is the Program Director at Calmer Choice. She has been with the organization since 2009, and has been an integral part of creating the vison for the organization, the programing for schools, and the training program for instructors and teachers. She is a board-certified family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with MSN from the University of South Alabama. Ms. Kennedy has over 20 years of nursing experience working with families and children in the community, as a school nurse, and in psychiatric clinical practice. Throughout her career Ms. Kennedy has integrated a mindfulness-based approach into all her work. She has served on advisory boards of national, regional and local maternal child health and mental health organizations and views mindfulness education in schools as an important public health intervention. Most importantly, she is a wife, mother of two awesome teenage children, and is loved daily by three dogs and three horses.