Why Mindfulness Through Movement?
Students from low-income, high stress environments carry their “invisible backpacks” into the classroom. The term “invisible backpack” refers to the unseen burdens and trauma students bring with them to school. Trauma impacts how students behave and how they learn. Left unaddressed, the “invisible backpack” each student carries can negatively affect their academic success and personal development.
Mindfulness through Movement’s programming is designed to help at-risk youth address the challenges in their “invisible backpacks” and reach their full potential by providing them with strategies to improve focus, concentration, self-confidence, self-regulation, and interpersonal communication; and teaching them the skills for peaceful conflict resolution, anger management, and stress reduction.
The need for this type of programming is verified by research and program experience which indicates that children who grow up in inner cities face stress and trauma for which regulation skills are required, particularly for at-risk youth who are growing up in neighborhoods characterized by low-income rates, high crime, poverty and family neglect. Risk of low academic performance, school dropout, school bullying, and aggression in response to experienced trauma are vastly increased for youth growing up in these urban, low-income neighborhoods.
How the MTM Program Works
Mindfulness Through Movement provides one certified yoga teacher to teach its Basic Program (two 45 minute classes per week) to schools that qualify. Classes are taught from October through April. All schools are prescreened by an MTM representative to ensure there is a suitable, available place for classes. Classes are ideally taught back-to-back unless there is an agreement otherwise. MTM estimates that during an average week, at least 1,000+ students receive the benefits of instruction.
The MTM Teacher’s Manual
The MTM instructors teach a combination of yoga, mindfulness, centering and breathwork. The MTM Teacher’s Manual has a research-based curriculum with 16 Lesson Plans that include the following elements:
Introduce yoga positions to help children become engaged
Using breath to create a sense of peace and well-being
Incorporating breath, movement and activities to help children understand and relate to their lives
Allowing children a chance to rest and ending every practice with gratitude, kindness and love.
The goals of the MTM program are to provide urban youth with useful skills for peaceful conflict resolution, improved focus, concentration and self-regulation, increased self-confidence and prosocial behavior, and overall stress reduction. MTM promotes kindness and a sense of peace to its students.
MTM is committed to developing high-quality programs to meet the needs of Philadelphia’s children who experience unique challenges early in their young lives. Research and experience have shown that a solid yoga and mindfulness practice benefits these children, maximizing their development of social, emotional and cognitive skills, particularly for those living with daily stress and the effects of poverty.