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Teaching Mindfulness to Youth


Noah Levine and some of his closest friends started the Mind-Body Awareness in 2000-2001, an organization dedicated to working with at-risk youth. PDN recently hosted a webinar (an online teaching program) for folks who work with these youth. The Webinar was led by Chris McKenna, the Executive Director and Sam Himelstein, the Research Director. Chris opened by sharing a story of his long time teacher, John Oda, who started going into youth centers to connect the youth with mindfulness based practices by showing Kung Fu movies. Chris said “In this way, he developed a curriculum of mindfulness around watching clips of Jet Li!” He spoke about the importance of creativity engaging with youth populations.

“This work is for those of us who feel called to go into the places that undeserved youth are often sent: homeless shelters, juvenile detention center, foster homes and the streets. We work with a range of kids, some of which are addicted to heroin, some of which are simply runways trying to find a safer place to be. As Chris says “We’re here to teach present moment awareness..how to deal with strong emotional states, how to discharge trauma and we keep looking for the blind spots.” He stresses the importance of really meeting youth where they are, and listening as one of the most important pieces of connection and for developing the curriculum. Their basic module is built around the core conversations they hear over and over again…essentially letting the youth themselves build something that works for them.”

If your interested, The Mind-Body Awareness Project offers a year long training for people who really want to take a deeper plunge into their world of working with youth. “We’re all, all of us, trying to adapt this material to adolescents, we’re all learning from each other” Chris McKenna

Mind Body Awareness Project in Oakland CA.

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