The Mindful Mentors Project, in the Tukwila School District, brings together teens and third graders to connect as mentors and mentees, who engage together in learning about social emotional learning, mindfulness, and movement.
Partnering with the students on this project are Thrive Centered (formerly Thrive Yoga), an organization that centers embodiment and provides somatic-based SEL and restorative practices for youth K-12, Sound Discipline, Tukwila Elementary School, and Foster High School.
In Spring of 2021, Thrive Centered, founded by Damithia Nieves, and Sound Discipline, recruited six high school students to serve as mentors. The project began over the summer with training for the teens. They explored brain science and trauma-aware practices, learned about facilitation and holding space for others, and practiced mindfulness and embodying that knowledge through movement. These skills prepared them to model mindfulness as they stepped into their roles as mentors.
COVID delayed the start of the program. This didn’t stop mentors from building relationships with mentees, though!
When they couldn’t do small group mentoring, the teens did one-on-one interviews with third graders instead. The elementary students were elated to connect to their high school mentors, asking, “When can I do this again?!”
In December, the teen mentors created self-regulation videos to share with the entire Tukwila Elementary community through televised morning announcements. Check out these inspiring videos where they model self-regulation strategies:
The Mindful Mentors began leading and facilitating in-person and virtual sessions with their third-grade mentees in January 2022. Each cohort is made up of a small group of third graders, who follow an eight-week curriculum. Each session has a routine that begins with connection and grounding, movement and breathing practices before engaging in the learning activity, and each session ends with connected closing experience.
With the support of their teen mentors, the third graders are exploring the connections between intentional breath and movement, and its effects on their wellbeing. The first half of the program is dedicated to relationship and community building. They recently completed a group charter and community agreements and explored tools like Brain in the Hand.
We are grateful for the energy and commitment of our teen mentors, who continue to meet weekly throughout the school year to practice their own skills and plan for working with their elementary school mentees. In April, the mentors are excited to meet and connect with a new cohort of enthusiastic third graders!
We are also grateful for our collaboration with our partner, Thrive Centered, and other community-centered organizations, to support young people in unique ways such as the Mindful Mentors Project.
Roshaé Lowe is a Sound Discipline Facilitator & Stacy Lappin is the Director of Program