Newly armed with a doctorate in education, Stephanie Romero, executive director of the new nonprofit Awaken Pittsburgh, is developing curriculum for mindfulness with projects in various sites in the Pittsburgh area.
During her studies — with a focus on mindfulness as a teacher — she discovered efforts to use meditative practices to help at-risk youth. Ms. Romero said she found a compelling curriculum called Path of Freedom, designed for at-risk and incarcerated youth and adult prisoners and developed by Kate Crisp and Fleet Maull.
The program goal is to give participants greater self-awareness, improved impulse control and greater social awareness.
Ms. Romero has delivered the Path of Freedom program to prisoners in the Allegheny County Jail.
“It changed the way I worked with kids,” she said. “It changed me deeply.”
She had been a teacher at South Fayette Middle School and enjoys that age group, she said.
“They’re really malleable. That 12- to 16-year-old age is when they are doing identity formation. There’s a different way to interact with the world. …”