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Carin Winter is the founder and chief executive officer of Mission Be who has successfully led the Mission Be Mindful Education Program into 28 schools from Big Sur, California, to Harlem, New York.
Q: Tell us why it's important that children learn the practice of mindfulness?
Carin Winter: Many students are overwhelmed by academic pressure and busy schedules.
Children benefit from the daily practice of mindfulness which allows them to self-regulate and manage daily pressures.
There are also many children that have experienced trauma and mindfulness can help reduce trauma and give children a skill to heal.
Q: When offering mindfulness-based educational programs, do you ever encounter resistance? How do you overcome it?
Carin Winter: There are times when we first come into a classroom and it is a bit of rowdy. During these times, there can be a bit of resistance from the students and teachers to change the cultural norms. But, typically by the third week the children are open and receptive to practicing mindfulness and embracing the possibility of a different culture, one of calmness and compassion.
Q: What kind of real benefits have you witnessed from the implementation of mindfulness programs in schools?
Carin Winter: We collected data and found a 13% increase in ELA, English Language Art scores, a 5 out of 6 category increase in State Math Scores. In surveying teachers, 92% of teachers reported an increase in improvement of student empathy, 85% of teachers reported an improvement in decision making. 100% of teachers surveyed reported that Mission Be was an effective character education program. 17/17 teachers reported an observed increase in student self-regulation and attention and their ability to manage stress effectively.
A senior at Stanford University conducted her honors thesis on Mission Be's curriculum and found that students themselves reported reduced stress and increased focus when applying what they learned in mindfulness class.* She analyzed what students reported feeling both before and after practicing mindfulness. In the immediate moments before using mindfulness practices, students generally reported feeling mad, stressed, angry, sad, and/or frustrated. After using mindfulness, students most commonly reported feeling calm, relaxed, and/or happy. Generally, students moved from a negative emotional state to a more positive state after using mindfulness.
*Isabel Arjmand, "Take a Deep Breath", Stanford Study, 2016.
Q: Can you give us an example of a mindfulness technique that children or teachers can use?
Carin Winter: One of the breaths the children love is the Ocean Breath. Here is a little sample:
Close your eyes and take a slow deep breath in, feel your belly and heart rise and as you breathe out and feel your heart and belly fall. Now, imagine your breath moving rhythmically like the waves of the ocean. As you inhale, imagine the waves of breath moving into your body and filling your lungs, belly, and chest. As you exhale, breathe out and release slow healing ocean breaths. Now for a one minute, just sit and breathe in and out in stillness.
Gently prepare to come back to the room, wiggling your fingers and toes and opening your eyes.
Q: Who can benefit from your program at 1440 Multiversity?
Carin Winter: Our program is most ideal for K-5th grade teachers. Our course is designed to equip teachers an opportunity to how to deliver a 12 week course to bring a solid foundation of mindfulness into their classroom as well, as give get daily practices to bring into their classroom.
The beautiful part of this program is that it is also designed to help teachers develop and maintain their own personal practice.