The Luke William Hahn Foundation sponsors the Shanthi Project’s Mindfulness program for students in the Pen Argyl and Bangor School Districts. After many years of supporting children and teens through our grief groups, we became aware of the need to offer a proactive program for students in the general classroom as well. After meeting Denise Veres, the executive director of the Shanthi Project, we decided this mindfulness program would fit our mission in every respect. In the 2016-2017 school year, the first mindfulness lessons were taught in fifth grade at the Wind Gap Middle School. Below is a description of the program from the Shanthi Project website.
- In-school Mindfulness with teacher and class:
Shanthi Project offers a 16-session mindfulness-in-the-classroom program designed for elementary, middle, and high school students and their teacher(s). The class meets once or twice a week for 20 minutes and combines simple movement with awareness of the breath, and exercises that hone focus and help with concentration. Mindfulness trains our brain to notice or pay attention. Specifically, we notice our body, emotions, and thinking, to pay attention fully to our experiences so that we learn to respond, instead of react to life’s challenges. Through mindfulness, students also learn to verbalize basic needs (hunger/thirst, fatigue, anxiety, etc.) instead of acting out. Mindfulness is accessible to everyone, including special needs children. Mindfulness training has shown to increase self-control and resilience and lower test anxiety, increase grades/test scores, and decrease stress and disciplinary actions. Teachers also report better classroom dynamics and feeling less stressed themselves. Shanthi Project’s teachers are skilled and compassionate, and have received specialized training in therapeutic yoga, including how to work with at-risk youth and those who have survived emotional and physical trauma.
The “Dear Luke,” Project offers journals to newly bereaved adults and children in the community. It originated as one of the coping methods our organization’s director found most helpful when going through her grief journey. Journaling can be a very important outlet in a person’s grief experience and healing. It is a way to express emotions and thoughts when it is too difficult to share them with others. Many grief support group participants have used their journals for writing or drawing their thoughts and feelings.