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healthykids


School Om Work Kids Calm Themselves with Meditation by April Thompson S


choolchildren are learning the calming effect of tuning into their minds and bodies through a pio-


neering program in Baltimore, Maryland, that’s replacing time outs and school detentions with mindful moments. Trained staff—including many former students—teach yoga, mindfulness practices, meditation, centering and breath work that empower kids to resolve conflicts peacefully. Brothers Atman and Ali Smith and friend Andres Gonzalez founded the


nonprofit Holistic Life Foundation (HLF) in 2001 in response to the pressing need to help kids living in challenging urban environments better manage stress, anger and other height- ened emotions. Today, the organization is sowing the seeds of mindfulness with some 7,500 students a week across 18 Baltimore-area schools, usually begin- ning through daylong, school-wide interventions and afterschool programs supporting targeted populations. Frustrated kids cool off and center


themselves through breathing exer- cises and meditation in the Mindful Moment Room in the HLF flagship Robert W. Coleman Elementary School. “Sometimes when I get mad, I just breathe deep. I picture being in a certain place I like and I just stop being mad… I think of being a bigger person and doing something maybe a wise man would do,” advises one fifth-grade participant. “When we had to take a big test, before I took it and in the middle, I


These are tools kids can rely on for the rest of their lives, and use them to get back to their center. ~ALI SMITH


50 NA Triangle www.natriangle.com


Lyashenko Ego/Shutterstock.com


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