But what are we going to do about it?
Operation: Prefrontal Cortex. A program that harnesses the power of mindfulness to help reduce the incidents of violence in our communities. Minds for lives.
To bring this to life, our first step is to create a pilot program to bring mindfulness practices to schools in the Toronto school board, and we need your help to raise $25,000 to fund the pilot in three schools (covering kindergarten to grade 12).
Who is behind this campaign?
Director X (formerly known as Little X) is known for directing high-budget, visually distinctive videos for popular artists, including Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Jay Z, Kanye West, Rosalia, Usher, John Mayer, Fifth Harmony, and many more. His work has been nominated and awarded by the MTV Music Video Awards and Much Music Video Awards. Continuing his foray into the world of film and television, Director X made his studio feature directorial debut with Superfly, produced by the legendary Joel SIlver. As Director X advances through the landscape of filmmaking, he continues to travel from his roots of Toronto to his residence in Los Angeles, trailblazing his way into our homes and onto our television screens. Using his platform for social change, Director X founded Operation Prefrontal Cortex , an initiative created to reduce Toronto’s gun violence through mindfulness and meditation.
How will the funds be used?
Director X is partnering with Mindfulness Everyday, to develop a pilot program for select schools in Toronto. Director X will use all of the funds from this campaign to train educators in the evidence-based smartEducation program, managed by smartUBC, teaching them the skills and techniques through experiential learning and practice to embody the qualities that we would like to see in our children and youth. The training will provide teachers with the skill set to authentically pass on their knowledge to both educators and students. This program costs $350 per teacher.
SMART (Stress Management and Resiliency Techniques) for Educators and Helping Professionals is a secular program designed to address the needs of educators (Kindergarten to Grade 12) and professional support staff that integrates the teachings, practices and research from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, emotion theory, compassion training and movement.
How do we know it will work?
Studies have shown a connection between violent and aggressive behaviour and the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates emotions, particularly fear and anxiety, as well as the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for thinking, planning, reasoning and decision making. These are the same parts of the brain that are impacted in children who have suffered abuse and neglect.
Mindfulness practices have been shown to calm the amygdala and strengthen the prefrontal cortex and have already been successfully rolled out in a variety of places including schools and prisons.
In Massachusetts, the Walpole maximum security prison houses some of the state’s most violent criminals. But a study that looked at the effectiveness of the mindfulness practice, Transcendental Meditation, found that the inmates who practiced it showed significant reductions in aggression. Following their release, researchers also found that there was a 27% lower rate of reincarceration compared to non-meditating parolees.
In San Francisco, Visitacion Valley middle school was seen as one of the worst in the state. Surrounded by drugs and gang violence, the kids were stressed out and agitated, with several fights breaking out each day. Since introducing mindfulness practices suspensions at the school dropped by 45% and attendance went up to a staggering 98% (some of the best in the city). Today 20% of graduates are even being admitted to the highly academic Lowell high school, somewhere that in the past would have lucky to have one student accepted.
In Mexico, the Apodaca prison in the state of Nuevo León was the scene for one of the most violent jail incidents in recent Mexican history, in which 44 prisoners died during a riot. Since introducing mindfulness practices with its 700 inmates, no cases of extreme violence have been reported and the prison is now one of the safest in Mexico.
We need your help to stop the violence in our city. Together, our minds can save lives.
- Franca Abate
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