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Outlook 2019: Mindfulness training at schools aims to help students cope

Outlook 2019: Mindfulness training at schools aims to help students cope

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Tulsa has a variety of innovative health and wellness programs targeting the young to the elderly, including one aimed to prevent children from lashing out when faced with stressful situations.

The new program, called “mindfulness training,” is coordinated through Family & Children’s Services and incorporates yoga, breathing exercises and other strategies.

“There are groups of kids who have challenges with anger, getting along with others,” said Ginger Page, principal at Wright Elementary School, where the program began earlier this year.

“They just need coping skills. They’re with peers who have a lot of the same issues.

“We’re hoping to accomplish a couple of things. Giving them coping skills ... but also developing their peer relationships during those sessions,” she said.

“We’re hoping it will help them be more introspective about themselves but also their relationship with others and how their actions impact people around them.”

Mindfulness groups at Wright are facilitated by Oklahoma State University master’s of counseling interns supported by Family & Children’s Services mental health supervisors.

The program began this year at Wright and another school site, said Faith Crittenden, program director for school-based teams at Family & Children’s Services.

“Our hope is next year to expand it,” she said.

Page said 20-25 students are currently participating in the program at Wright.

The students learn techniques such as deep breaths and guided exercises — focusing on body sensations with stretching physical exercising — in groups.

Page said it is still too early to tell how effective the program will be but said she is “absolutely” optimistic about it.

“They’re excited,” she said of participants. “They love going. They take it seriously and they understand they are a select group of kids.”

Because of confidentiality rules, children participating in the program are not publicly identified.

But in a letter to parents, Wright quoted several who are participating.

“The mindfulness group is very fun, very thoughtful, very nice and very cool,” she quoted one fifth-grader as saying.

“When I go to mindfulness, I feel calm. It teaches us to be calm and happy. I like mindfulness because they are nice and I want to continue doing mindfulness,” a fourth-grader said.

Said another, “I think it’s fun, and I like it because it helps with sadness and dealing with mad people.”

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