Group teaches teens mindful meditation to improve mental health
MIAMI - On a recent Thursday morning at Lindsey Hopkins Technical college where kids in a program to get them back on track with their schooling sat in a circle, Ruban Roberts was leading a session of his "teen talks."
Teen Talks was started 14 years ago and is a way to connect youth in underserved communities with police agencies so each can see the humanity in the other.
"My heart is in working and strengthening youth and families," Roberts offered.
Roberts a former NAACP leader has recently expanded his program to focus on teen mental health.
"Most of us suffer in silence and we don't have a way for a safety valve to address this," he says.
So, Roberts began offering sessions in yoga and mindful meditation to his 'teen talks' groups.
On this day, Shante Haymore-Kearney who runs Brown Goddess Collective, the only trauma-informed wellness community that centers on Black and brown women, is leading the group.
"I'm trying to get them to understand there are tools and techniques, practices from centuries ago that can be used today," she explains.
"It is pivotal because their brains are developing, their sense of self is developing and the more you can get them grounded in who they are the less likely you will be swayed by external forces and circumstances you can't control."
Haymore-Kearney led the teenagers through stretching, deep breathing and poses.
Juy Morla who is fifteen years old says there were fights every day at his middle school that led to distraction. "The teachers will go out and not be in class most of the time," he says.
After one session of yoga, he says he's ready for more. 'It opened me to myself and it felt comfortable and inspired me," he explained. Morla says he wants to play high school football and thinks he's on his way.
Monica Rodriguez who is 15 years old and grew up in Hialeah is in 8th grade and trying to make it to high school. She says she started spending less time on social media to escape all the drama it caused at her middle school.
"A lot of people say stuff on social media and bring it back to school. Being on social media a lot messes with your brain."
Roberts says through teen talks and mindful meditation the teenagers he is guiding now have a path to success.
"Sometimes kids make choices that have a negative effect, so we want to change that. They understand there will be challenges, it won't be easy but there is a way to manage the stress and give them a sense of hope."
More coverage of the youth mental health crisis: Here
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