CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health believes all health is tied to emotional health. CHI promotes wellness by providing preventative strategies for children and families and is dedicated to nurturing healthy development throughout childhood and adolescence.
CHI’s “Take Your Time” initiative builds on the work of Daniel Rechtschaffen’s Five Literacies of Mindfulness. Katherine Ewell, Education Program Manager at CHI, explains, “We saw that the Five Literacies of Mindfulness was a great framework to use to teach mindfulness to children. Our program is focused on helping second- and third-graders gain physical awareness to help them in the self-regulation of their body, mental awareness to help kids gain the ability to focus, emotional awareness, social awareness, and global awareness to see how all the parts of the world work together.”
Psychology Today reports that teaching mindfulness to children is common in other countries such as Great Britain and India. Research shows mindfulness exercises can improve a child’s attention span and behavior and often results in higher grades. Most importantly, mindfulness training gives kids the tools they need to make smart choices, even when emotionally triggered.
Ewell reports that these skills are especially important to second- and third-graders right here in Lancaster County. “There is a period of time when kids are lacking self-regulation skills and are not able to calm down when something is upsetting,” Ewell notes. “These kids lose focus, they lose ground academically, and they feel the social consequences of not fitting in.”
CHI Expands the Program to Three School Districts
CHI’s “Take Your Time” mindfulness program started small. Lori McCracken, VP of Education at CHI, explains, “We started with a one-time program for 30 minutes, and the teachers asked if we had more long-term programming.” She reports, “We sat down and decided to invest more time creating a 10-session mindfulness education program over the course of 10 weeks with second- and third-graders. Our approach is driven by interactions. We focus on being developmentally appropriate. We communicate at their level to get them to understand these abstract concepts.”
Ewell agrees. She notes, “We do a lot of activities to help kids connect with the concepts. We want to increase mindfulness and strengthen their mindful muscles, so they’re able to focus better when they’re feeling scattered. This approach helps them increase their self-awareness and self-regulation skills. “Take Your Time” started in the Lampeter-Strasburg school district, and now we’re in the Penn Manor district and at Leola Elementary as well.”
A Grant from LOHF Helped Amplify the “Take Your Time” Program
The pandemic forced the program to shift in 2020, and CHI began developing online mindfulness programs. Ewell says that “Having a grant from LOHF legitimizes the program. LOHF’s support is a signal to educators that this is an important initiative. The grant has helped us expand the education team and get coordinators focused on this effort.”
About LOHF Grants
LOHF’s grants elevate youth and children’s mental well-being by supporting local programs that help us answer one or both of our two big questions: How can we build the talent pipeline in behavioral healthcare for youth and children in Lancaster County? And how will we improve access to mental well-being for youth and children in Lancaster County?
We encourage applicants to replicate existing successful models and work collaboratively with others to improve mental health services for youth and children ages birth to 26. Additional funds will be available in Spring 2021. To learn more, please visit http://www.lohf.org/grants.