Over my fourteen years of teaching in an elementary school, I have watched my students’ level of anxiety drastically increase. The suicide rate among ages 10 to 14 doubled in the U.S. from 2007 to 2014 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; surpassing the rate of death by car crashes. There has been an increase in bullying and, as seen on national news, an increase in school shootings. It is time for teachers to step in.
I have found a training that I believe will help me curb anxiety in my own students. The training is called Breathe For Change. It is an intense 16 day, 160 hour training in Washington DC. It includes a curriculum that integrates social-emotional learning, meditation, philosophy, anatomy, yoga and community building into themes designed for use in education. The curriculum equips educators with the tools they need to be champions of well-being and social justice; facilitating authentic social-emotional learning for their students.
The Breathe for Change training is based upon the understanding that just like other skills, qualities of attention and emotion regulation can be developed and deliberately trained through instruction and practice. These skills can be practiced anytime and anyplace without reliance on specific equipment. It is well suited for use with children because of the ease with which these skills can be trained and the potential consequences for academic and social success. It is designed to promote empathy and positive social attitudes as well as increase cognitive performance. It also promotes managing negative emotions and stress in adaptive ways.
A study conducted in 2014 in an inner city San Francisco school found that daily meditation practice led to increased attendance, higher GPAs and decreased suspensions by 79%. These social emotional competencies increase rates of school graduation, employment, and average wages. They also decrease dropout rates, behavior issues in learning environments, drug use, teen pregnancy, mental health problems and criminal behavior. I plan to use the tools that I learn at Breathe for Change to help my students, but I also plan to share the knowledge with my colleagues and community. Together we can help build the whole student, a person that has a full toolbox to deal with the daily stresses of life.
I have been teaching mindfulness in my classroom for two years now, and I have seen the positive change first hand. I feel I have so much more to learn though. The students need our help in dealing with the social-emotional part of life. It is time for children to learn life skills that will help them deal with their anxiety and the stress that surrounds them so that they can succeed academically and socially. I am ready to help our community but I need your help.
The training costs $2650 and I still owe $2,150. I found housing and have paid for my own flight to the east coast to attend this workshop in July. I also applied and have been granted a $500 scholarship by Breathe For Change. I have asked both my school and my school district to help me search for more ways to fund this but neither institution can help. With your help I want to bring more peace to our future leaders. I would appreciate any and all sized donations. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and support me in any way you can.
*all payments for this program are due by July 6, 2018.