News

  • News from UNC Program on Integrative Medicine and SERA

Southeast Raleigh Assembly, Inc is partnering with UNC to teach L2B to youth and parents. Standing third from right is Dr. Rita Anita Linger, CEO of Southeast Raleigh Assembly, Inc. (www.southeastraleigh.org), an organization that empowers the community through multiple outreach and education efforts. Standing 2nd from right is Dr. Karen Bluth and at right is Dr. Susan Gaylord. Both are from the University of North Carolina Program on Integrative Medicine within the UNC School of Medicine. They are directing this research project in conjunction with SERA to bring mindfulness to parents and youth in NC.

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  • News from the Center for Personalized Prevention, University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota Center for Personalized Prevention Research (CPPR) in conjunction with Headway Emotional Health Services is offering Learning to Breathe as part of a proposed research project. For the past two years Headway clinicians have been offering Learning to Breathe (L2B) as part of their youth diversion program. The program serves youth ages 13 to 17 who have been referred to Headway by the County Attorney’s Office after committing a minor legal offense. Participation in L2B and the research project is voluntary. It is one of several ways that youth may complete their diversion contract. Headway staff are licensed clinicians who have received MBSR training. Many have also received training from Dr. Broderick and specialized L2B training offered by the CPPR team. CPPR observes the clinicians to provide ongoing coaching and fidelity monitoring.

Youth referred to L2B are often skeptical at first. Particularly since they are expecting a “consequence” for their illegal behavior. However most youth find the program enjoyable and engaging. Data is being collected regarding youth characteristics, youth satisfaction with the program and the program’s impact on youth behavior.

The research component is designed to explore underlying mechanisms by which L2B impacts youth’s emotional regulation. Deficits in emotional regulation are one of the known precursors of conduct disorder. Youth in diversion programs represent a group at high risk for deficits in emotion regulation and ultimately for the development of conduct disorder. It makes sense to use non-stigmatizing programs such as L2B for early intervention with these youth.

In particular CPPR hopes to study the impact of L2B on several mechanisms thought to underlie poor emotion regulation: overly reactive autonomic nervous system (ANS) and poor executive functioning. There are good theoretical reasons to believe that mindfulness programs like L2B may impact either or both of these conditions. CPPR hopes to study the ANS and executive functioning of youth in the diversion population and the longer-term relationships between these factors and illegal behavior. In addition CPPR will look at youth characteristics that may predict who responds strongly to L2B and who does not.

The extent of youth engagement in L2B and the amount of youths’ ongoing practice of mindfulness may be important factors influencing the impact of L2B for any given individual. CPPR and Headway hope to implement an enhanced version of L2B to look at our ability to promote engagement in youth who might otherwise be resistant. Modifications will include increased discussion of adolescent brain development and its impact on behavior; motivational enhancement techniques, coaching, monitoring and rewarding home practice; and creating support in the youth’s natural networks. Results of enhanced L2B will be compared to standard L2B and the most effective and practical version will be used in future research.

For more information, contact Dr. Joel Hetler, Center for Personalized Prevention Research
University of Minnesota
Urban Research & Outreach/Engagement Center (UROC)

  • News from Marjorie James in  Toronto

Some news from our L2B Toronto Trainer, Marjorie James.
She posts that L2B has been implemented in the following schools in the Toronto area: Vanier SS, Bethune CI, Rosedale School of the Arts, Marc Garner High School, Yorkdale Adult Education School, and Danforth CTI. In addition, Marjorie is currently leading a training for staff of Donview Middle School which has a focus on wellness. The training is being supported through a research grant from the Laidlaw Foundation and is being offered to teachers over a 5 week period after school.

  • News from AAPA: Dr. Anna Lau (UCLA) and colleagues presented at AAPA (Asian American Psychological Association) Conference in Toronto in August, 2015 on work on the ACES Project. This a multi-site study of adolescent stress and coping in California and Vietnam. This project has a focus on understanding the role of culture and context in teen stress and mental health to reveal modifiable risk and protective factors in order to plan targeted prevention efforts. A diverse group of adolescents were either assigned to one of 2 treatments  or were allowed to choose their preferred group. Overall. adolescents experienced clearer benefits from L2B on depression, anxiety, and stress.Dr. Joey Fung (Fuller Graduate School of Psychology) and her colleagues also presented on their work using L2B in a school-based project with Asian and Latino students showing mild to moderate depressive symptoms. Following L2B, youth showed reductions in parent-reported externalizing problems, child-reported internalizing problems, and emotion suppression. All these effects were maintained at the 3-month follow-up.
  • Bluth et al, 2015 A new study of L2B with at-risk alternative school students has been published in Mindfulness. Authors are Karen Bluth, Rebecca A. Campo, Sarah Pruteanu-Malinici, Amanda Reams, Michael Mullarkey & Patricia C. Broderick. See the research page for more information.
  • A review of L2B was published in the December, 2014 edition of the NASP Communique. This is the official publication of the National Organization of School Psychologists. Read the review by Kathleen Averre here: L2B Book Review
  • Penn State’s Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center has recently been awarded $1.4 million for a 3-year project through the US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES). This project, entitled “Promoting Adolescent Well Being Through Emotion Regulation Skills Instruction,” will introduce L2B to public school students through their health curriculum.  Mark Greenberg is the principal investigator on this project. Co-investigators include Jenny Frank, Deb Schussler, Tish Jennings and Trish Broderick.  Penn State Prevention Center Grant.  Here is a photo of teacher, Nancy Schuit’s mindful classroom and a link to a student-created infomercial to announce another round of L2B classes.
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  • Dr. Mark Greenberg and researchers at Penn State University’s Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center have received a CTSI (Clinical and Translational Science Institute) Novel Methodologies in Health Research Award for a pilot project titled “Using Innovative Methods to Study the Effect of Mindfulness Training on the Health and Well-Being of First Year College Students.”  College students face increased stress from various developmental, social, and academic demands, and evidence indicates that mindfulness-based practices can improve stress management skills, physical and mental health, and quality of life. Mindfulness-based practices may particularly be relevant to first-year college students as they can promote stress resilience and effective emotion regulation to facilitate the transition process. This study will test the overall impact of an 8-sessions college-adapted version of Learning to Breathe (Just BREATHE) delivered to first-year students living in residential dormitories using conventional pre and post test measures and ecological momentary assessments (EMA). Here are some pictures of our awesome L2B teachers.
Kami Dvorakova and Mark Agrusti

Kami Dvorakova and Mark Agrusti- Lead Teachers

The Teaching Team- Mark Agrusti, Moe Kishida. Kami Dvorakova and Alex Koury

The Teaching Team- Mark Agrusti, Moe Kishida. Kami Dvorakova and Alex Koury

  • Dr. Lisa Lucas and Dr. Sandra Kerr of West Chester University of PA report: A cohort of ten Early and Middle Grades student teachers at West Chester University have been participating in Learning to Breathe during their weekly student teaching seminar. Dr. Lisa J. Lucas, Associate Professor in the Early and Middle Grades and Dr. Sandra Kerr from the Psychology department received a grant to implement the program and modify it for pre-service teachers.
Dr. Lisa Lucas is 5th from the left.

Dr. Lisa Lucas is 5th from the left.

  • Sandra Wiggins, School Psychologist at the Friends School in Hobart, Tasmania, reports:We started using Learning to Breathe in 2013 with our Year 8s as part of their Health program.  In 2014 we moved the program to the Year 7s in their Connections program.  This program involves a day a week of extended multidisciplinary learning.  The Year 7s did the Learning to Breathe program in their first few weeks of school, two hours a week, and then finished it off with two one hour sessions at their camp.In Year 8 all students had a one hour ‘refresher’ course on Mindfulness as part of their Brain Week.  All Year 9s also did a short session in their week long Connections program and the Year 10s had a choice of several Mindfulness activities in their Connections Week also.  Through this continued reintroduction of Mindfulness throughout the years at High School, and with embedding Mindfulness techniques in classroom practice, it has given our students the opportunity to continue to develop their skills in this area.
  •  Dr Irene McHenry, Former Director of Friends Education reports:The Friends School component of the Friends Mindfulness Collaborative initiative was implemented in three Friends schools in Pennsylvania during this 2013-14 academic year: United Friends School in Quakertown (UFS), Media-Providence Friends School in Media (MPFS), and The Quaker School in Horsham (TQS). In each school, we implemented a 6-session mindfulness-based stress reduction course designed especially for educators. This course was followed by a one-day training for those faculty that would implement the Learning To Breathe mindfulness curriculum with students. Evening workshops introducing mindfulness to parents were offered in two locations. We measured outcomes for the 6-week faculty program on mindfulness-based stress reduction using qualitative measures that consisted of a survey that faculty completed at the end of the course, followed by interviews with the head of school at the end of the school year. See some comment from teachers in the Teachers’ link.
  •  Listen to a segment from NPR’s ‘The Pulse” here. It was produced by Stephanie Maruda who interviewed students and teachers in the Philadelphia schools, Richie Davidson of the CIHM, and Tish Jennings from UVA. This short segment illustrates the benefits of mindfulness for students:NPR Students find calm – July 25, 2014
  • Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute in Toronto is introducing a new mental health initiative. Click on the link below for a short video clip  about how this initiative fits with Learning to BREATHE. This story was aired on CTV News in January, 2014.

http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/toronto-high-school-to-teach-students-how-to-cope-with-stress-1.1646492

  • The “Mindfulness Project” at Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute was the recipient of one of the TDSB Excellence Awards for their work in bringing mindfulness to students. A progressive and proactive approach to supporting the mental health and well-being of all students was launched at Dr. Norman Bethune CI, thanks to the leadership and vision of teachers Robin Daniels and Whitney Aziz, social worker Marjorie James and Principal Sandy Kaskens. Using census data and feedback from students, the team saw a need and intervened in a positive, relevant and meaningful way. The Mindfulness Project teaches Grade 9 students at this school techniques for coping with stress and anxiety through a series of mindfulness sessions embedded in the school day and facilitated by staff. The initiative has caught on throughout the school, engaging both staff and students, who are experiencing the benefits of the training. This innovative program stands out as an example for how to support students and staff in the area of mental health and wellness, a key goal of the Years of Action plan. This project offers L2B to students.

 Award Winners

Award Winners at Dr. Norman Bethune CI

Pictured are:
School Trustee Sam Sotiropoulos, Executive Superintendent Lou Vavougious, Superintendent Peter Chang, Vice-Principal Neil Dyal, and the Team: Teachers Whitney Aziz, Robin Daniels, Social Worker Marjorie James, and Principal Sandy Kaskens

Here is the link to video of their Mindfulness Project Kickoff Assembly.

Mindfulness Kickoff Assembly at Dr. Norman Bethune CI

  • Barrington High School, IL In an effort to continually strengthen both the culture and climate of Barrington High School, administration and staff members have incorporated mindfulness programming to reduce stress and enhance well-being for both students and teachers. School administration has committed to a 5-year plan that offers teachers the opportunity to take an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class as part of their professional development. As new cohorts of teachers complete MBSR, they will be invited to participate in training to teach Learning to BREATHE in a way that works with their classroom schedule and curriculum. Brenda Nelson, LCSW, Student Assistance Program Coordinator is the L2B teacher at the school.

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