Mindfulness Training for Children…Mind UP

Goldie Hawn/ the Hawn Foundation/ Mind UP

Academy Award winning actress, producer, author, child advocate and philanthropist, Goldie Hawn started  Mind UP. Mind UP equips children, educators and parents with vital skills that will help them increase focus, improve academic performance, reduce stress and gain emotional resilience and optimism. It is the signature initiative of the Hawn Foundation and currently serves children on five continents with positive reviews.

As a nation, we adults were deeply affected by the horrific images of 9/11. Haunted by thoughts of small children trying to process the images and words from 9/11, Goldie wondered what she could do to help stressed out; depressed kids use their brains to become smarter and happier.

A child’s ability to learn is linked to their overall state of well being and mental health. Goldie assembled a team of educators, neuroscientists, positive psychologists, experts in mindful awareness training and created, MindUP as a social and emotional literacy curriculum and program.

Goldie has always been interested in the human mind and is a fan of mindfulness. “We don’t teach children about the human brain,” Goldie said at a recent luncheon held at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The actress shared stories from her own childhood, in Maryland. “Back then, our teachers had us put our heads down on our desks for five-minutes in the afternoon. Today, children are rushed from one subject to the next without a break.”

Press Club Goldie Hawn

What exactly is mindfulness? It is a moment- by- moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings and surrounding environment. It involves learning how to pay attention to our thoughts in a given moment rather than reliving the past or stressing about the future.

*Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and now thanks to the Hawn Foundation, schools.

The actress and producer best known for her vivacious personality and golden giggle, was born in Washington, D.C. to a musician and an actress. She began taking ballet and tap lessons at the age of three and opened her own ballet school at age eighteen.

**Hawn connected with actor Kurt Russell while filming the movie Swing Shift in 1984.. The couple also starred together in the romantic comedy Overboard in 1987. They have been together since 1983 and have a son, Wyatt Russell, who was born on July 10, 1986. Hawn also has two children from a previous marriage, actor Oliver Hudson and actress Kate Hudson, and is the stepmother of Russell’s son from a previous relationship, Boston.  She is also the grandmother of four boys and a brand new granddaughter who was born in July of 2013.

Mind UP equips children, educators and parents with vital skills that will help them increase focus, increase academic performance, reduce stress and gain emotional resilience and optimism.

Press Club Goldie Hawn Cupcake

In Mind UP, lessons on elementary neuroscience helps kids to understand how their brains influence what they do. The amygdale, an almond-shaped set of neurons located deep in the brains temporal lobe is presented as a “guard dog” that processes emotions like fear and can spur irrational behavior while the pre-frontal cortex is characterized as a “wise old owl” that moderates decision-making.

Utilizing Mind UP in the classroom allows teachers to:

1) Help kids maintain focused attention

2) Form more accurate perceptions of students

3) Think more clearly under pressure

4)  Improve communication with students, parents and staff.

5)  Improve the overall classroom climate by infusing it with optimism and hope.

6)Helps create a stronger, more vibrant school culture.

7)  Be happier, more joyful and grateful-a disposition that ultimately spills out of the classroom and into private life.

8) Experience greater job satisfaction

Why not teach our children Mindfulness skills? In reality kids have always had to deal with bullying and stress but what is different today is we do not teach them how to react to the bullying. Teaching them to live in the moment, to pay attention to their surroundings and to walk with mindfulness seems like a positive step forward to me and a win for all of us especially our vulnerable children.

For more information on the program, the foundation and how to get the curriculum for your school:













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