Program Profile: Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention Employs Novel Strategy to Promote Mindfulness, Self-Regulation

The Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention serves 60 youth who have been referred by their classroom teachers and school social workers to the Summer Spot to receive additional academic, emotional and social support. The Summer Spot is AIP‘s summer learning program that has taken place at the Frederick School for the past 12 years. This year, Summer Spot is a BPS Summer Learning Academy with a dual focus on education and social-emotional learning.
Susan Lovett, the Director of Summer Spot, is a licensed clinical social worker, certified K-8 classroom teacher, registered yoga teacher and mindfulness facilitator. Lovett leads the team of staff and partners at the Frederick School who are focused on trauma-sensitive teaching and learning strategies. She has implemented mindfulness and trauma-sensitive yoga activities at the Frederick School and in previous years’ Summer Spot programs. This year, the Summer Spot continued offering daily mindfulness activities and introduced a new concept, the Mindful Moments Room.
The Summer Spot staff converted a small office into a Mindful Moments Room with low lighting, comfortable chairs, yoga mats and coloring supplies. Students can request a Mindful Moment from teachers and program staff when they need a five-minute break from English and Math classes or enrichment activities. Summer Spot staff can also send a student to the Mindful Moment Room to give the student time to “re-set” or “check in with themselves”. Mindful Moments are always five minutes long and are designed to give students an opportunity to implement self-regulation skills so that students can return to class feeling more grounded and ready to learn.
Students can choose from a list of five activities: mindful walking, mindful coloring, yoga stretches, deep breathing with guided meditation or sand raking. Social work interns staff the Mindful Moments room and introduce students to the choices. The most popular choices this summer have been mindful walking and mindful coloring. Interns will walk with students through the hallway or outside of the school, focusing on breath and movement. Colored pencils and mandala coloring books are provided for students who choose to color silently as they settle their bodies and minds.

The Summer Spot Director and the social work interns are tracking Mindful Moments data including the times that students come to the Mindful Moments Room, whether students requested Mindful Moments or were sent by a teacher and what choices the students made during their Mindful Moments. Teachers are being interviewed to find out whether they noticed any differences in students once they’ve returned to class. Students are also being interviewed to determine if they find the Mindful Moments Room beneficial. After the Summer Spot ends, a written report on the effectiveness of the Mindful Moments Room will be provided to the Frederick School principal for potential implementation in the 2017-18 school year.
The Summer Spot staff have heard many positive comments from students who have been accessing the Mindful Moments Room such as “I’m starting to notice when my body needs to move. Then I can ask for a Mindful Moment instead of getting out of my seat and getting in trouble” and “I like to take a break to be quiet for a few minutes and notice how I’m feeling.” AIP’s teachers have said they appreciate having the Mindful Moments Room as a non-disciplinary intervention for students and that they’ve noticed most students using it appropriately.
With an intentional focus on developing self-awareness and self-regulation skills for middle school students, the Summer Spot program will continue to experiment with new ways of supporting students to be successful. The Mindful Moments Room has been an effective strategy that AIP plans add to its therapeutic after school program starting in September.