Stress Resilience for Self-Aware Kids: Tools for Emotional Regulation and Healthy Relationships

What if at-risk youth had the tools to find strength and stability in any situation?

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

As an educator, I have lost many capable, hard-working students to the stress and trauma of their environment. When your stress response is in overdrive--as it is for victims of chronic stress and trauma--it has dire consequences to your physical health and your ability to regulate emotion, focus your attention, and show empathy to others. Many of our students that are labeled as having "behavior problems" and excluded from the school environment through suspension and expulsion are suffering from chronic stress and trauma. The current consequence and behavior intervention structures within schools do not address this critical and fundamental trigger of many student behaviors that are maladaptive for the academic environment. The consequence is that thousands of children with limitless potential are being pushed into the school to prison pipeline every year instead of being given the tools and opportunities to heal from these symptoms of trauma and chronic stress. Neuroscience has found that the areas of the brain that are negatively affected by trauma and chronic stress are the same areas of the brain that are healed by a Mindfulness practices. Trauma research has found that movement is essential when dealing with trauma as we carry our issues in our tissues. Dynamic Mindfulness is an evidence-based movement practice that can support this generation of students to achieve their goals and fulfill their potential regardless of their zipcode or background circumstances.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani)
  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website

www.niroga.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Oakland

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego. Outside of California we have school partnerships and trainings in New York, New Orleans, Jersey City, Memphis, and Houston

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Stress and trauma are ubiquitous in American public schools. They are even more acute in urban and high poverty school districts. Niroga works to empower students and educators with the tools to build resilience to chronic stress and heal from trauma to create more joyful, inclusive and productive school environments.

Young people, especially those growing up in the urban neighborhoods and areas of concentrated disadvantage in our country, are victims of chronic stress and trauma. These kids need tools for stress resilience and trauma healing. Without these tools their sympathetic nervous systems will remain in overdrive as they try to protect themselves from real and perceived threats and danger. The latest research in neuroscience shows that this state of chronic stress physiologically turns off the brain's ability to focus, regulate emotion, cope with stress, and empathize with others. The techniques that Dynamic Mindfulness (DMind) teaches support the brain in turning back on these essential functions .  

DMind addresses the kinesthetic, emotional, and cognitive elements of our bodies and is an evidence-based, trauma-informed method to build stress resilience, increase learning-readiness, enable emotional regulation, and increase pro-social behavior in children, adolescences, and adults. Dynamic mindfulness practices have been validated by the latest findings in neuroscience, trauma research, and somatic psychology.

DMind enables children, adolescents, and adults to act mindfully in stressful situations rather than react reflexively. DMind empowers students to develop a strong sense of self-awareness both psychologically and physically, supporting their ability to make choices with forethought and to build empathic relationships with their peers, teachers, and parents. 

Dynamic Mindfulness has the power to revolutionize how schools deal with stress and trauma. The use of DMind in schools can ensure that kids have the tools they need to find strength and stability in any situation so they can go into the world and accomplish their goals and dreams.





Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded

2005

Project Stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages, and the next step will be growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

When Niroga partners with a school for a Dynamic Mindfulness program, we have a 3-year plan with that school. In the first year, we train the teachers in DMind and work on their capacity to develop a personal practice and then share that with their students by implementing the DMind 48-lesson curriculum. In the second year, we turn our focus to empowering the student's ability to lead the practice in their classrooms and community as peer leaders. In the third year, we turn the focus to families, creating a parent leadership group to further expand the stress resilience and trauma healing practices into the community. This 3-year model ensures that the DMind program becomes rooted in the culture and structure of the school.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Niroga has trained thousands of teachers and DMind has been field-tested with over 50,000 students around the US. The latest research of our program has found that DMind has a statistically significant effect on increased student attendance and results in a decrease in the number of suspensions. This has huge implications in increasing graduation rates and dismantling the school to prison pipeline. Our curriculum has been evaluated by a team of independent researchers from UC Berkeley, Harvard Medical School and the Pennsylvania Prevention Institute, showing that DMind reduces stress and increases emotion regulation (Frank, 2012), key predictors of academic achievement. Because Education does not succeed in isolation, DMind also addresses other interconnected social domains including Health, Violence Prevention, and Youth Development, working in concert to impact all areas of life.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $500k - $1m

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We charge a nominal fee for our programing and teacher trainings that covers the wages of our employees, and administrative, and production costs. In addition to this income we rely on grant funding.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

What differentiates our program from others is our focus on making the practice trauma-informed. Most mindfulness programs are static, or without movement, while our program incorporates movement to allow for trauma healing while also making the practice more appealing to students. Other SEL programs focus immediately on self-awareness and emotional regulation without first building students' ability to control the stress response. If they are still chronically stressed, the goals of emotional regulation are less attainable because the logic centers of the brain turn off with chronic stress.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

It is promising that there is a new focus on the importance of Social Emotional Learning, especially with the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act that incorporates goals for Social Emotional Learning. It is uplifting that at the policy level there has been recognition that students require more than just academic skills to become successful, productive citizens. Our hope is that this policy shift will bring greater focus on endowing students with tools to deal with stress and heal from trauma so that they can be empowered to achieve their greatest potential.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Program Design Clarity

Our primary beneficiary community are educators, students, and parents. We train educators in how to bring Dynamic Mindfulness into their personal life to create a culture of stress resilience, sustainability and trauma healing within their personal and professional environments. We also give our trainees the tools to share the tools of Dynamic Mindfulness with their students, families and co-workers through teaching practice, coaching, and a 48-lesson scripted curriculum that is available in print and video format.

Community Leadership

Student peer leadership is a central component of our program model. In many of our schools we see students leading the majority of DMind practice and guiding the program implementation based on the needs of their peers. In our third year of engagement with a school, we work with parents as DMind ambassadors to bring the tools of stress resilience and trauma healing to the greater school community.

Age of Children Impacted

  • 6 - 12
  • 12+

Spread Strategies

Change starts with each of our trainee's adoption of a practice of DMind within their own self-care regimen. After personal practice has been established, our educators are ready to share the tools for stress resilience and trauma healing with their students. The students establish their own personal practice and share the tools for stress resilience and trauma healing with their siblings, parents and friends thus empowering the community.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

The most vulnerable children in the US are the greatest victims of chronic stress and trauma. Neuroscience has found that trauma and chronic stress diminish the brain's ability to focus attention, regulate emotion, and feel empathy towards others. DMind directly heals those areas of the brain. Students that practice DMind have reported feeling "so powerful" as they learn to regain control over their emotions, their impulses and their bodies.

Leadership Story

Bidyut Bose is the Founder and Executive Director of Niroga Institute, which serves thousands of high-stress people annually, while developing cost-effective architectures for lasting social transformation. Having learned yoga and meditation since he was a child, and with a PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley, Bidyut spent many years in Silicon Valley in R&D and strategic planning. For over 10 years, he has been conducting stress resilience trainings for influencers in education, health care, youth development and violence prevention nationally and internationally.

Organization's Twitter Handle

@niroga

Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

https://www.facebook.com/niroga/

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bidyut-bk-bose-4605563

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 40%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 60%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 0%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 20%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 40%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 20%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 20%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 20%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 40%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 20%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 20%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 20%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 40%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 40%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 0%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 33.3%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 100%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 33.3%

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