April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an opportunity to appreciate the ways we work together to strengthen families and communities. There are simple steps we can take every day to help reduce the risk factors for child abuse and neglect. With the help of a supportive community, parents and children can be resilient even in the face of adversity. There are seven wellness practices shown to reduce stress and strengthen resilience. This week we are focused on Mindfulness, a stress-busting strategy that is good for the whole family! Mindful practices like meditation, mindful movement, and quiet time in nature can improve physical and emotional health and bring a sense of calm, even in the midst of a stressful day.
Kind Mind Program
For this week’s Mindfulness theme, we will be showcasing a new buffering service grantee, Kind Mind. Kind Mind is an innovative nonprofit focused on transforming school culture to include more mindfulness and nature connection practices, building the foundation for emotional and social skills that aren’t often included in traditional curriculums. Through Kind Mind’s in-school and playground programs, instructors build relationships and guide the understanding and experiential learning of mindfulness and compassion practices with students and teachers, which will ultimately allow them to lead classrooms on their own in a couple of years.
Kind Mind’s program includes weekly facilitation of activities and lessons, tips to teachers for daily practice in classrooms, time in nature, and support on the playground in conflicts and playfulness, all currently being implemented at Roosevelt Elementary and the Santa Barbara Community Academy. These practices help children learn compassion and how to better regulate their own emotions in times of stress. While these kids may not be at the level of cognitive development to dive into the more profound aspects of mindfulness, these early intervention programs can help plant the seeds to continue and deepen practices later in life.
Connection to ACEs and Trauma Informed Care
Through Santa Barbara County's Network of Care and provided trainings, Kind Mind facilitators are learning more about Adverse Childhood Experiences. They understand the prevalence of ACEs and trauma in the communities they serve and are committed to incorporating trauma-informed practices within their program. They create a safe container by getting to know students and providing various options for ways to practice mindfulness, time to share and validate experiences, and guidance to practice self-compassion. This allows all children with varying needs a way to participate and gain new skills. Overall, the children have responded very well to the program and even those who were hesitant at first, were eager to participate in the following weeks and months. Staff were able to notice children solving conflict in a less combative way and leaning on their mindful practices in times of stress or emotional dysregulation.
Expanding the Program
Currently, Kind Mind is only being provided at two school locations, but they are expanding their program with this new funding by teaching in small groups to connect better with more introverted students, and offering mindfulness workshops to parents. This program is providing children in the community with the skills and tools they need to combat future stressors, work well with others, and have a better understanding of their own emotional needs, promoting community resilience as children are able to utilize practices beyond the classroom, teaching those around them as well. This new generation of Kind Mind students will grow to be more conscientious, compassionate and mindful of their actions and behaviors as they enter the community and workforce. Resilient Santa Barbara County is excited to see Kind Mind join the Network of Care as a Buffering Service Grantee, and continue supporting children and through newly expanded programs!
Curious about mindful practices? Here are some listed below:
- Deep breathing through movement
- Mindful sensing around the room (ex: notice five different sounds you can hear, four items you can touch, three you can see, two you can smell, one you can taste)
- Grounding practices using sound, yoga, or movement
- Slow mindful walking (even more impactful without shoes)
- Experiences in nature (finding sensory elements)
- Guided meditations (many freely available on youtube)
Tips on introducing mindfulness to young kids:
- Model self regulation
- Show vulnerability
- Bring small practices into daily life (sharing gratitudes, going on short walks to point out elements of nature)
- Grounding practices: do a body check, provide comforting touch
- Breathing practices: breathe in for a count of 3, hold breath for a count of 4, and release for a count of 7
If you would like to learn more about Kind Mind please click here to view their website.
To get more daily tips for strengthening resilience and preventing child abuse, please check out CAPC’s Facebook page.