Antioch schoolkids getting lessons in mindfulness along with emotional, mental support
ANTIOCH -- Children's mental health was already on the decline before the pandemic and school closures may have made things even worse, especially among marginalized communities, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Marsh Elementary School in Antioch is trying to undo the damage with a special class that teaches the students not to worry about the past or the future, but instead to be in the moment.
Briana Rodriguez is the person students at Marsh Elementary go to for a smile or someone to talk to. She happens to be the onsite Mindful Life Project instructor at the school. It is an organization that goes into schools to provide daily emotional and mental support for students through mindfulness practice and sessions.
"We show them mindful movement and we show them creativity through arts," Rodriguez said. "We do collages, skits, and letting them know movement is a form of communication."
Students like Adam say they look forward to these minutes here.
"Mindfulness can be used anywhere," Adam said. "It can be used when doing your work, so I use it to focus on one thing."
Forty students a week can be found in Rodriguez's classroom participating in hands-on sessions. The sessions include stretching, meditation and check-ins, a tool to help with the growing youth mental health crisis.
"So many of our students are coming here with a lot of traumas at home," Rodriguez said. "When they come to school, they are letting us know of a lot of things happening. So, this is just letting them know this is just a safe space for them to come and just find their joy."
Rodriguez takes the mindfulness sessions inside the classrooms so each student can have sessions, right at their desks.
Fourth-grader Devonte says these sessions are helping him during and outside of school.
"I get mad easily and stuff ... I learned how to calm myself down," Devonte said. "Like, I am not getting in trouble as much as I used to."
The Mindful Life Project has been in the works since 2020 and is funded through Kaiser Permanente.
Rodriguez says this program is making a lifelong impact on students at the school she attended when she was younger.
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