by Heidi Bornstein and Stephen Chadwick
Founders, Mindfulness Everyday
This year will be the third year that Steve and I will be attending the conference. Why do we keep going back?
Aside from the obvious (a welcome break from our frigid Canadian winters), the conference brings together leaders in the field of mindfulness in education, mental health, and medicine. This unique gathering allows attendees to learn and practice their mindfulness skills, benefit from the collective wisdom of experts already bringing mindfulness to youth, connect with like-minded advocates, get up to speed on the latest research findings and initiatives, and connect with peers to share innovations and strategies which we can apply to our own work in bringing mindfulness to teens and educators.
But the biggest reason we keep returning is because of the surprising collaborations which are born among the passionate and experienced professionals who connect there.
To those who are open and curious, the synchronicities are frequent and irresistible.
The following is the story of one such fruitful partnership that blossomed over time.
In 2013, we offered a poster presentation of our action research with The Mindful Edge program – “Stress Reduction and Life Strategies for Teens,” which we have been delivering to high school students in Scarborough (Toronto). One of the first people that we met during the event was Fiona Jensen of Calmer Choice, and we quickly developed an appreciation of each other, both personally and professionally. The following year, we offered a pre-conference workshop entitled “What Really Matters in Mindfulness Programs for Teens: Key Elements That Engage, Energize and Inspire Teens to Practice Mindful Awareness.” Fiona attended, along with Adria Kennedy, the program director for Calmer Choice.
Calmer Choice has been delivering in-service programs for grades K-8 since 2009 in Cape Cod. In addition to providing a teen program, Mindfulness Everyday trains educators in mindfulness through MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) workshops and SMARTinEducation in Toronto since 2010. The relationship continued to flourish and eventually developed into a working collaboration, sharing the unique skills of both organizations in order to produce a common goal: cultivating a school-wide climate of mindfulness.
This year, we are pleased to be able to share the outcome of our joint efforts, offering a post-conference workshop entitled “A Collaborative Approach in Creating a Mindful Culture in a Middle School: A Multi-Tiered Methodology” along with Fiona Jensen and Adria Kennedy. This co-created workshop describes the process involved in creating a School-Wide Comprehensive Mindfulness-based Prevention Program for Middle Schools. Together, we combined the Calmer Choice curriculum for students with a custom-designed, MBSR-based program for educators called MiRTH (Mindful Resilience Techniques for Health and Happiness) created by Mindfulness Everyday to specifically support the student program by training educators in mindfulness for themselves. Yale researchers Michael Crowley and Sarah Nicolls developed the research methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of the comprehensive Calmer Choice Program for students, MiRTH for teachers, and the impact on school climate as a whole.
The point is that we never know what richness might develop from a chance meeting.
Our friendship with Fiona and Bob Jensen, Adria Kennedy, Diane Kovanda, Deb Ennis and Katie Medlar of Calmer Choice continues to be a source of delight. Supporting the incredibly worthwhile programs that Calmer Choice delivers on the Cape is rewarding. Developing a new application and delivery model for MiRTH that can be effective for educators is exciting.
And it strengthens both of us when we face similar challenges in the field and can share ideas, strategies and resources.
We are grateful to the conference and its organizers for providing such a rich opportunity.
We look forward to being at the conference in 2015 and seeing what gifts we can offer and receive. We invite you to join us.
My passion for bringing mindful awareness to adults and teens comes from discovering meditation when I was a teen. It opened doors of perception, awareness and clarity that have guided me my entire life. Being able to share the mind body practices with adults through MBSR Workshops and teens through The Mindful Edge and seeing them open, soften, and connect with their own inner wisdom is incredibly inspiring.
Heidi is the co-creator (with Heather Elson) of the Yoda-Yoga program for kids, a program specifically designed for use in the 20-minute DPA (Daily Physical Activity) in elementary schools. Heidi is the co-creator and teacher for The Mindful Edge® – Stress Reduction and Life Strategies for Teens program in high schools.
The “stress” of education has been on academics, and a full education—one where a child develops socially and emotionally—is missing. Children are multi-faceted human beings. I believe that adults and youth need to become friends with themselves, accepting who they are and connecting with the wisdom that they have within already.
Steve is a teacher for The Mindful Edge® – Stress Reduction and Life Strategies for Teens program in high schools. He has 27 years of experience as a public school teacher with the TDSB, specializing in working with children with special needs and ESL.
Join Heidi Bornstein and Stephen Chadwick in their Post Conference Workshop A Collaborative Approach in Creating a Mindful Culture in a Middle School: A Multi-Tiered Methodology.