by ENACT Site Director Rebecca Elkin-Young
Thanks to successful crowd source funding, the ENACT program at Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) was able to obtain materials to launch a Mindfulness Initiative. So many of our students are directly effected by the stresses of current immigration policy and all of the students are experiencing the emotional toll of the general state of our country. I see these anxieties manifested in student behavior. The Mindfulness Initiative is an effort to give students new resources with which to manage stress. The KGIA ENACT office now has a “meditation corner” which includes a cozy bean bag chair, meditation cushions, a water fountain, a Tibetan singing bowl, Himalayan salt lamps, relaxing sound machine, and an essential oil diffuser. We have also stocked our shelves with books on mindfulness, therapeutic mandala coloring, and mindfulness and positive affirmation card games.
The students were instantly fascinated by these items that many of them had never encountered before. Introducing students to new ways to cope also allows them to be more tolerant of each other and to open their minds to ways that different cultures manage stress, remain grounded, and incorporate ritual to create structure, safety, and comfort. Because this project supports teaching tolerance in that way, an anonymous donor doubled all donations made thus getting us to our goal even sooner!! The initiative aligns with ENACT’s mission to meet the students where they are and create a safe(r) space in which to breathe and express themselves openly. By offering this environment, students may be more able to be present and engaged in their academics and more likely to show up in school rather than skip when they are feeling overwhelmed. One student stated “This office feels like home” and a few others present agreed. In a time when the concept of “home” is on shaky ground for so many of our students, this made it all worth it.