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Mindfulness Practices Transform Students’ Lives

Michelle Auld
District Wellness Coordinator at Brooklyn Center Community Schools
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

Making wellness a priority throughout Brooklyn Center Community Schools in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Wellness Coordinator Michelle Auld has utilized numerous resources and grants to activate programs and activities that help students live healthier lives. From attending wellness events to participating in yoga classes and veggie challenges, Michelle aims to help students and their families continue healthy practices at home that they learn in school.

Michelle says implementing mindfulness initiatives with teachers and staff in schools has had a profoundly positive impact on their students. Middle school teacher Mrs. Sara Anderson was an early adopter of mindful movement with her special education students, and she immediately saw how well students responded. They were more relaxed and calmer, which allowed for deeper learning in the classroom. Noticing the impact, she asked students to express how meaningful the exercises were to them. Whether they chose to draw, write, or act out the benefits of the mindfulness exercises, every student remarked on the positive impact, and many shared that they practiced the mindful techniques at home, too.

A sixth-grade student at Brooklyn Center Middle and High School STEAM was experiencing severe anxiety in the classroom, to the point that he became so overwhelmed, he needed to leave the classroom to vomit. Some days this happened more than once, and often multiple times per week. Given the student was absent from the classroom recovering in the nurse’s office or sent home when symptoms were severe, he was missing valuable lesson time and school work. Knowing the benefits mindfulness techniques had on kids from the mindful movement trainings, the school nurse introduced this student to mindful movement. Working with the nurse, the student began to build a supply of self-help tools, incorporating relaxation, breathing and visualization techniques. They practiced the techniques using spatial body and emotional awareness, while focusing on his triggers and cues to help him implement.  The more he practiced, the more aware of the impact he saw the techniques were having on regulating his anxiety. Soon the student was successful in negating and dissipating the anxiety with self-management and self-regulation, and he no longer needed to leave the classroom.

Now this student  stops by the nurse’s office only occasionally—to give an update on his progress and share his success using mindfulness techniques!