Mindfulness in Schools Conference

“I like it because I liked learning about the brain and now I know how to calm down when I’m stressed.” James, P5.

There is a growing body of rigorous research including randomised control trials and neuroscientific studies regarding the potential benefits of mindfulness for kids. With all the pressures of living in 2018, now more than ever, kids need to learn new ways to manage their emotions and learn coping strategies to deal with stress. We now know that 1 in 10 children experience a mental health difficultly by age 11 and 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.  At AWARE, we have now launched our primary schools delivery of Paws B designed and licensed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP). Professor Katherine Weare observed: schools who engage in mindfulness are likely to see “beneficial results on the emotional wellbeing, mental health, ability to learn and even the physical health of their students.”

As a Paws B facilitator, I delight to see the expression on the kids’ faces when they (and sometimes the teachers too) realise that we don’t have to ‘flip our lid’ as a reaction to stress, but rather, when our emotions settle we can choose our responses more wisely.  Paws B teaches us take a moment to pause; and simply be by learning how to notice the sensations in our body with curiosity and kindness, much like an adventurer or explorer. As the storytelling mind by default fills in the information gaps, we begin to understand that when attuned to our senses this can help us to respond in a more embodied way which doesn’t cause extra stress. Through this innovative brain training programme (Paws b) we can engage in being able to gently bring back the wandering mind through the practice of puppy training, which help us to concentrate, make good choices and ultimately be our best. The illustration of shaking a coke bottle seems to relate, as we too can feel fizzy when we get stressed out, in such circumstance we need to bring attention to our breath and the lower half of our body to steady ourselves. When we discuss the plasticity of our brains (through an illustration with plasticine), kids realise how we can grow happiness through shaping our brains to enjoy all the experiences and richness of the present moment. However, although the wandering mind is trained to not ‘miss out’ on the present moment, the richness of child-like imagination can be enhanced through mindfulness practice - creativity flourishes as fear settles and resilience is born. ~ Carolyn Blair

AWARE's Mindfulness in Schools Conference: Free Your Mind takes place on Monday 26 February 2018 in Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast. AWARE chairperson Bernard McAnaney will be welcoming all to the conference, followed by our Keynote speaker Claire Kelly, MiSP Director of Curricula and Training who will be speaking on 'Mindfulness in Schools - What? Why? How?' Guest speakers, Heather Watson principal of The Phoenix Integrated Primary School and Fiona Kennedy principal of St. Columba's Primary School will comment on the impact of Paws B on their schools. Furthermore, five Phoenix Integrated primary five students will be demonstrating and reflecting on what they have learned from the Paws B programme. Carolyn Blair will be presenting an overview of Paws B and Lesson 1 (condensed) 'Our Amazing Brain' and Frank Liddy will be compering the event and delivering a brief mindfulness session to close. All are very welcome. There are limited spaces at the event so we do recommend that you secure your FREE place as soon as possible.

Location: Crumlin Road Gaol, 53-55 Crumlin Road, Belfast BT14 6ST

Date: Monday 26 February 2018

Time: 9.30am arrival for 10.00am start, 1.00pm finish.

Cost: Free (Refreshments on arrival)

Booking: https://awaremindfulnessinschools.eventbrite.co.uk

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