Denver School Teaches Gratitude With Mindfulness Program
Creativity Challenge Community, a Denver Public Schools elementary innovation school, implements a Mindfulness Program for nearly 300 students in grades K-5
November 1, 2016 (Denver, CO) — For 15 minutes twice a month, students ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade at Creativity Challenge Community (C3) of DPS receive a lesson in calming the mind and quieting the body through its Mindfulness Program. Mindfulness, defined as paying attention on purpose without judgment, helps the students become aware of their senses as well as their inner world of thoughts and emotions. The benefits of regular mindful practice have been well-documented in studies from institutions including University of North Carolina, Carnegie Mellon University and National Institutes of Health, with decreased stress and anxiety along with improved focus, kindness, engagement and self-regulation as common positive outcomes.
One example for mindfulness is the cultivation of gratitude, which will be a special focus of C3’s mindfulness lessons leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Students, led by Mindfulness Program Director and Instructor Melissa Kaufmann, have drawn pictures of what they are grateful for and are focusing on this during their mindful meditation coupled with silent sitting and deep belly breathing in their classes on prior to the Thanksgiving break.
“There is no doubt that there are huge benefits to adding mindfulness to our school curriculum,” states Assistant Principal Brent Applebaum. “We have worked with restorative practices when conflict occurs. Mindfulness is allowing us to precede that step, by putting strategies in place for students so they can control their emotions prior to having any conflict. Our goal is to improve the learning and social experiences of our students.”
C3 implemented the Mindfulness Program last year with Melissa through private funding but has since obtained partial grant funding and hopes to expand the program in the future. After seeing how well the students responded, continuing the program at C3 became a top priority.
“When I designed this mindfulness program, I was hoping to teach students to self-regulate and have a toolbox of mindful tactics to use in their daily lives,” explains the creator and instructor of the program Melissa Kaufmann, known as Miss Melissa to her students. “After taking mindfulness classes, C3 students understand how to maintain focus in and outside of school, how to be aware of their emotions and senses without judgment, and how to be in the present moment. Before the kids would have a hard time sitting still for any duration of time, whereas now they are able to sit with mindful bodies – quiet, still and eyes closed – for upwards of two minutes at a time.”
C3 isn’t alone. Many corporations such as Google, Nike and American Express provide mindfulness-training programs to their staff. The American Psychological Association also cites mindfulness as a hopeful strategy for alleviating depression, anxiety and pain. According to a University of Southern California study, it is estimated that the average American consumes 13-plus hours of media a day. This modern bombardment of our attention affects both adults and children alike, making the benefits of a mindful practice even more critical.
12 Benefits of Mindfulness:
- Improved focus and concentration
- Increased self awareness
- Improved impulse control
- Natural conflict resolution skills
- Improved self-regulation to challenging situations
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Increased patience
- Empathy for oneself and others
- Physiological and cognitive relaxation
- Improved well-being
- Cultivation of gratitude
- Easier adaptation to change
Mindful Schools, a global mindfulness training program for educators, found the benefits of belly breathing during mindfulness practice “slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and sharpens the mind’s ability to focus and learn by slowing down the amygdala and supporting the higher brain function taking place in the frontal lobes.” It seems that adults and children alike can benefit from simply pressing pause and taking a little time to breathe.
To learn more about the Mindfulness Program at C3, visit http://c3.dpsk12.org/.
About Creativity Challenge Community (C3)
C3 is a K-5 innovation school in Denver Public Schools inspiring kind, courageous thinkers to achieve at the highest levels. Highly-qualified teachers work closely with students to challenge achievement within updated classrooms, state-of-the-art playgrounds, a learning garden and more. Weekly school tours are available at 9 a.m. where attendees can see C3’s creative teachers and learners in action. C3 is located in the Cory-Merrill neighborhood at 1551 South Monroe St. Denver, CO 80210. To learn more: 720-424-0630 http://c3.dpsk12.org
About Melissa Kaufmann, Mindfulness Program Director and Instructor
A passionate program creator and instructor of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, Melissa works with children and adults alike through her national work with individuals, schools and businesses such as The Coda, CA Technologies, and the Denver Public School System. Melissa is a graduate of the Samadhi Center for Yoga in Denver, a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and has completed yoga and mindfulness training for children with Peaceful World Yoga, a Mindful-Based Yoga program. Melissa is a current student of Shannon Paige’s Advanced Yoga Teacher Training program “Embody” at Earth Yoga in Boulder. She is excited to share her love of being present with others by creating programs and guiding mindfulness, meditation and yoga across all ages. To learn more: 303-725-2626 firstname.lastname@example.org and connect on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissakaufmann)