Bullying | Local Non-profit Addresses School Violence

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With all the tragedy and violence in our schools today, teaching kids self regulation and stress reduction is more important than ever. Since 2004, CALMING KIDS (CK): is a local Boulder non-profit, has been focused on immediate and direct impact to reduce bullying and increase self regulation in kids and teens. 

On February 14, 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida experienced one of the deadliest school shootings in American history. This tragedy Bullying in schoolshas left Americans across the country heartbroken, frustrated, and wondering how we, as individuals, can make a difference in stopping this vicious and violent behavior.

CALMING KIDS has been addressing this issue for years. CK, a Colorado 501(c)3, was created after the tragic shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, for this exact reason. For the past 13 years, they have worked with teachers and students in Colorado and around the world to reduce bullying and violence in schools. In addition, to helping develop better coping mechanisms and increasing students’ compassion for one another.

Calling your state representatives and supporting today’s youth in creating safer schools in the long term is undeniably important. But, what can we do right now, TODAY?

If you want to make a positive difference and feel passionately about ending school violence, then the best place to start is in the schools! This is exactly what CALMING KIDS is doing with their classroom programs.

CALMING KIDS has impacted 3,500 teachers and over 40,000 students through their work in schools locally, nationally and globally.

Anti Bullying Teaching Program

There is still so much more to be done. CK is looking to expand its impact and wants to get the word out to as many school teachers and administrators, students, parents, and to those who feel concerned about this issue. We CAN make a difference and help to create a non-violent world, stop bullying in schools and help kids focus.

In addition to classroom programs, CK has also produced a variety of support materials for teachers and students:

  • including classroom workbooks,
  • self regulation posters,
  • educational films

and a new pocket sized movement, mindfulness and meditation book, Finding Calm in a Moment. This book guides students of all ages through a variety of simple practices to release stress and self regulate immediately. Get involved NOW! Visit our website to learn more www.calmingkids.org

For more information contact: calmingkidsyoga@gmail.com or 303-530-3860.

Anti bullying for kids in the West Bank – March 2017

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Anti bullying for kids in Palestine

~ Written by Dee Marie

CALMING KIDS (CK) in the West Bank: The beauty of the countryside combined with the bubbling effervescent energy of the children and teens has created a joyful eye-opening experience for all of the Boulder-Nablus Sister City delegates. We have visited three schools together as a group, two in Nablus and one in Qosra Village over the past 12 days. I, Dee Marie, director of CALMING KIDS: Creating a Non-Violent World have been blessed to interact with schools teaching Anti bullying for kids on four other occasions.

One remarkable afternoon in Odala Village instructing 80 girls ranging from 7 to 14 years old. Their enthusiasm, focused efforts and warm welcome and thankfulness was just the beginning of the many heart-opening experiences I have had since in the West Bank.

Another morning traveling to Madama Village to teach a group of 40 male athletes, 11 – 17 years of age, was a fantastic adventure of balance, strength, surrender and humbled success for all who participated in anti bullying for kids program. The Minister of Education met us at Awarta Village School for girls. She witnessed a joyous gathering of 35 gals ages 10 – 16 practicing mindful movement, yoga asana, dancing, stretching and meditation. The intensity of movement and love escalated to its fullest at the American Academy in Nablus. An entire school day was enriched with yoga classes back to back serving 185 students, mixed boys and girls, from Kindergarten to 8th grade.

Wow, what wonderful opportunities it has been to serve the big eyed, bright smiles and bountiful energy of the students in this part of the world.

The networking magic of the Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project was able to connect CALMING KIDS with the An Najah University’s Dean of Education. Dr. Alia Asalia arranged two CK teacher trainings, one for elementary age staff and one for Middle and high school instructors.

The most striking thing as an American teaching in Nablus was the amazing amount of men in the teaching profession. Unlike the US where it is predominantly women in the field of teaching. The mixed gendered energy in the training room opened the doors for an enriching experience of laughter, seriousness, intellectual curiosity and deep spiritual connection. The educators were overjoyed with the information regarding breathing and self regulation.

As the instructor I left beaming in the light of Spirit that has led me on this path. In my own small way helping to create a non – violent world.

There is one more morning of two teacher trainings where the women teachers will have a separate training from the men teachers. Stay tuned for the update on those workshops.

Checking In for Self-Regulation

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Click here for a 2 minute anti bullying video demonstrating Checking In: CALMING KIDS ~ Checking-In

Checking InThe First Step Toward Mindfulness At CALMING KIDS, we strongly believe that a child who practices nonviolence is also a child who practices self-awareness and mindfulness. Children who are aware of themselves also tend to be more aware of the effects their actions have on others.

anti bullying videoOftentimes, kids who feel frustrated or angry will lash out by bullying or hitting one another before even taking a moment to assess what they are feeling and why they’re feeling that way. We created the CALMING KIDS curriculum for schools to teach children to pause after experiencing whatever it is they’re feeling, so that they may understand it — and themselves — better. As a result, the amount of bullying and violent acts among children is greatly reduced.

The first step to helping children achieve mindfulness is to teach them to “check-in” with their bodies and minds. With younger children, ages preschool through third grade, it can prove extremely helpful to start with an introduction to body awareness.

For children of all ages, CALMING KIDS approaches mindfulness with an exercise called “Checking In.” Children are encouraged to check in once or twice a day, especially when not feeling their happiest. They are taught to observe their postures and breath, which will help bring awareness to which emotions they’re feeling, and the kinds of thoughts that are coming to mind. In checking in, kids are learning how to get in touch with themselves and gain more control over how they express themselves. For a short anti bullying video tutorial on Checking In ~ click image above

How to Find Calm in a Moment: Getting Out of Busy-Ness for Yourself and the Kids in your Life

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Posted November 2016

Learning how to calm the mind and check in with our body sensations and emotions is a challenge for most of us. Responsibilities and social media tend to keep us running from one task and distraction to another. As adults and teachers, we model to our kids and students the ‘cult of busy-ness’ and then feel frustrated when our kids are glued to screens at every free moment. When I was a school teacher, gone all day and then busy in the evenings with grading papers and planning classes for the next day, my 10 year old son was ‘kept busy’ with his smartphone and computer. Now at age 15, when he’s not at school or sports, he has his headphones on and is on his smartphone, the tablet they gave him at school, or his computer…it’s hard to even get his attention or initiate communication when we’re in the same room!

Recently, Dee Marie and Gina Kane of CALMING KIDS came out with a new pocket-sized book called Finding Calm in a Moment: 108 Practices in Movement, Mindfulness and Meditation for All Ages. I decided to commit for a few days to taking 5 minutes every morning to practice a super short meditation or two. I was drawn to the two page section on the heart, called “Heart Health.” In it are four simple practices to connect with your heart…two involve putting your hands on your heart and checking in with your heartbeat and breath, and two suggest diving in to your heart with your mind’s eye, visualizing an expedition into the heart, or a beautiful lotus flower blooming on a lake in the heart. All four meditations probably took about 5 minutes total, and at the end I felt refreshed, and connected to my heart and my emotions as well as my breath and the warmth and beauty within me.

By the end of 3 days, I had all four of the meditations memorized, adding them to my personal toolkit of ways to find calm in a moment.

It occurred to me while I was doing the meditations one morning that a child who was being bullied (as I was as a child), or a child who was a bully, would be so helped by connecting with their heart in this way. By practicing self-awareness, by being willing to feel our own warmth and aliveness, we automatically are connected to resources within that we could never get by staring at a screen. Something so simple as putting your hands on your heart and feeling the expansion of your chest for a minute could have such a profound effect on yourself and your day, and the children in our world!

Here’s a quote from the CALMING KIDS website (https://calmingkids.org):

“At CALMING KIDS, we strongly believe that a child who practices nonviolence is also a child who practices self-awareness and mindfulness. Children who are aware of themselves also tend to be more aware of the effects their actions have on others.”

Being self-aware leads to non-violence towards yourself and others. It just takes a few short minutes to build a habit of self-awareness that can last throughout your day, potentially making a major difference in your life.

As adults, instead of (or maybe in addition to?) modeling ‘busy-ness’, we could model for the kids in our lives a commitment to taking a few moments in our day to put down what we are doing, and check in with the sensations in our bodies and the emotions swirling through our hearts. Can we get into the habit of practicing self-awareness, especially when we are upset, anxious, overwhelmed, or frustrated? Can we commit to creating non-violence within, first, and then see that spread into the world around us?

For a short and simple guided practice to show teens how to check in with their bodies and emotions, visit

 http://streamlearn.com/2016/06/21/calming-kids-in-class-films/

Bullying, Addiction and the Lifeline of Yoga ~ By Rachel Z – posted October 2016

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In 1983, when I was in third grade, the bullying began. The popular girl in class wanted my best friend to be her best friend, and so she made it her task to belittle me, scorn me, and gossip about me, until my best friend betrayed me and went over to the dark side. So not only did I lose my best friend – someone I had spent a lot of time with, shared personal secrets and hopes with, and relied on for support – but now I was openly bullied by her, and the popular girl. I remember being surrounded by about 10 kids on the playground – taunting me, pushing me, throwing things at me – and looking over at the teacher on duty, who was carefully looking in the other direction. I didn’t view the adults at the school as any kind of solution or offering help, so I just tried to tolerate the abuse the best I could. As the school bus rounded the corner to enter the school driveway, I would get panic attacks, my heart rate went up, cold sweat on my skin. That year, I developed a strange habit of hyperventilating…my breath was out of control, and the more I tried to breathe, the more out of breath I felt. I would get sent to the nurse to ride it out by breathing into a paper bag, then sent back to class. No one – not my parents, the teachers, the school nurse…ever stopped to ask why a 9 year old girl was hyperventilating at school.

The popular girls began writing on the bathroom walls, graffiti about how I was the “scum of the earth”. Which I believed and internalized. But in some effort at self-defense, I wrote back on the bathroom walls. So we all got a week of detention after school, forced together into a room to stew in anger and hatred for each other. There was no effort at intervention, at opening a conversation about what was going on, about the hateful things that were written on the walls.

In the 4th grade, I stopped going outside at recess. It wasn’t safe. I dreaded the lunchroom. I begged to eat my lunch in the classroom with the teacher – which wasn’t ever allowed.

By the 5th grade, some strange behavior started up. I would dress every day from my mother’s closet, wearing clothes that were too big for me, and putting on lots of make-up. Some sort of effort at willing myself into adulthood, out of a situation that was so out of my control, and so intolerable.

And in middle school, the truly self-destructive behavior began. Cutting myself, smoking cigarettes, drinking, being promiscuous with boys much older than me, fantasizing about suicide, smoking pot…the long road of addiction, co-dependency, and self-hatred had begun.

Here are some statistics about the current state of bullying in our country:

Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.

Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.

1 in 10 students drop out of school because of repeated bullying.

Source: https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-bullying

Of course, I’m just one example…but I believe that being alienated by and an exile from my peers at an early age, helped to set in motion the self-destructive and addictive behavior that lasted throughout my 20s and well into my 30s.

Here’s an abstract on a study called “Bullying at school—an indicator of adolescents at risk for mental disorders”

A number of 14–16 year old Finnish adolescents taking part in the School Health Promotion Study (n=8787 in 1995, n=17643 in 1997) were surveyed about bullying and victimization in relation to psychosomatic symptoms, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance use. A total of 9 per cent of girls and 17 per cent of boys were involved in bullying on a weekly basis. Anxiety, depression and psychosomatic symptoms were most frequent among bully-victims and equally common among bullies and victims. Frequent excessive drinking and use of any other substance were most common among bullies and thereafter among bully-victims. Among girls, eating disorders were associated with involvement in bullying in any role, among boys with being bully-victims. Bullying should be seen as an indicator of risk of various mental disorders in adolescence.

Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140197100903518

That study confirms my experience, and is a clear sign that if we want to stem the tide of destruction that addiction is causing in our country, bully-proofing schools is an important step.

One bright spot, for me, however. When I was 12, I learned Sun Salutations, a basic yoga series from the Ashtanga tradition. I practiced that series every day all throughout my teens and 20s. It was a small raft of self-care in an ocean of self-hatred. A few minutes of taking care of my body, instead of trying to hurt it. It felt good, but didn’t cause guilt or shame afterwards. Somehow, that little bit of light helped me hang on through the darkness.

Today, I’m a yoga teacher. Yoga has, at several points, literally saved my life. Taking the time for self-care, moving my body, breathing deeply, and making a connection with something beyond what I can see, has been a lifeline. Let’s offer that lifeline to anyone ready to catch it.

Please support CALMING KIDS: Creating a Non-Violent World in bringing yoga into the schools, and help children like me find yoga!

Effective Breathing: How DO We Take Deep Breaths?

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From a yogic perspective, the breath is regarded as Prana, or the “vital force.” The breath is what governs our mental and emotional well-beings, having the capability to quiet our rage and soothe our nerves.

In the CALMING KIDS curriculum, we train instructors to teach breathing exercises to children and teens. On numerous reported occasions, these lessons have resulted in a decrease of bullying and violence — such as when children stop to take a deep breath and check-in when frustrated, rather than lashing out at others. It’s the deep breath that acts as a momentary reprieve, or gap, to recenter the self.

For this deep breath to be most effective, it must be executed properly:

Sit or stand with a tall spine, and imagine your lungs as balloons that expand and collapse as you inhale and exhale through your nose. Visualize the expansion of the balloon as the air fills your lungs, traveling through your chest, waist, abdomen, and back during inhalation — and then visualize the inward softening of your body as the air leaves it upon exhalation.

There are numerous techniques for teaching children the importance of breathing and how to breathe effectively. To learn how to teach mindful breathing to children, enroll in our CALMING KIDS Teacher Training

MC Yogi ~ Pilgrimage CD

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Pilgrimage CD by MC Yogi offers Yoga Music with the styles of world beat, hip-hop, Bollywood, reggae, dancehall, house and dub music.

“I’m just a working class mystic,” shrugs the enviably laid back MC Yogi, grinning a little as he adjusts his trademark fedora, kicks up his Adidas and cranks the volume on “Give Love,” an instantly addictive track off his stunning dance-floor grenade of a new record, Pilgrimage. You may have heard his 2008 debut, Elephant Power, a certified phenom that still hovers near the top of the world music charts. The album’s extraordinary success earned Yogi invitations to play in clubs and yoga festivals all over the world.

Helping Kids Work Through Bullying Issues With Yoga

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Bullying is much more common than most people realize: around a quarter of children are bullied at school, and around a third of adults experience bullying in the workplace. Bullying has an incredibly strong impact on children in particular, because it’s happening at a time when they’re particularly vulnerable to the psychological problems it can cause. For kids who are being bullied, or who are vulnerable in other ways, practicing yoga regularly can provide some important benefits.

Exercise in general improves mental and physical health, not only because of improved fitness, but also because regular physical activity helps strengthen the body-mind connection and helps people feel good about their bodies. The emphasis that yoga places on strength, flexibility, and coordination is especially beneficial for improving body image, self-confidence, and self-esteem, which are all things that most children and teens struggle with, and are things that bullied children are even more in need of.

Yoga is also an excellent stress-buster; while many people believe that children don’t get severely stressed the way adults can, unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. Children are more than capable of suffering from high levels of stress; it’s just that their stress results from different causes. And when people of all ages are bullied, they suffer from a wide range of physical problems as well as psychological ones: high stress levels, which contributed to headaches, stomach aches and digestive problems, muscle pain, anxiety, impaired immune function, and weight loss or gain.

How Can Yoga Help Vulnerable Kids?
Exercise is important for both mental and physical health, and regular exercise can also be an important part of building healthy self-esteem as well as a healthy lifestyle. All kinds of exercise can provide these benefits, even if they don’t have a cardiovascular component, but when it comes to yoga, regular practice is of special benefit to the mind, body, and spirit.
One of the most important benefits of yoga is that it’s a non-competitive type of exercise, which means it’s great for encouraging children and teens to practice yoga not to win, but just because it feels good to do it. When you practice yoga there’s no winning or losing, and no measuring yourself against other people; there’s just the satisfaction of getting stronger, of achieving new poses, of relieving stress and stretching muscles.

The opportunity to take part in activities that don’t focus on winning or losing is hugely important for kids; for children who are being bullied, it’s even more so, because of the severe psychological effects that bullying can have. Poor self-esteem, low confidence, poor body image, anxiety, fearfulness, depression, and social isolation can also result from bullying; the unique qualities of yoga can help mitigate those effects and give bullied kids a chance to relieve stress and improve the way they feel about themselves.

There’s an increasingly large body of scientific evidence showing that yoga can help improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. It’s so beneficial that many therapists recommend yoga to their patients; some even undergo therapeutic yoga training and directly incorporate the exercise into therapy sessions. The deep state of relaxation that practicing yoga induces is a type of relaxation that you can’t achieve through normal activities like socializing or spending quiet time alone, and helps promote benefits like reduced stress and tension, better mental clarity, better quality of sleep.

When kids practice yoga regularly, they also develop an improved ability to handle stressful situations; that means kids who are vulnerable to bullying are better able to cope with it when it happens, and may be less susceptible to the psychological trauma that bullying can cause.

Yet another benefit of regular yoga practice is that it provides relief from thinking about those stressful situations. When practicing yoga it’s necessary to concentrate not on thinking, but on what your body is doing, about which muscles to contract, about maintaining breathing and balance. Yoga may not be an intense cardiovascular exercise but it is both physically and mentally demanding, requiring that the practitioner focus all their attention on their body. When a child is practicing yoga, they’re not worrying about bullying, about being stressed or anxious; they’re just focused on the pose and on their body. Each session gives the child a much-needed chance to relax, and over time, the accumulated benefits of stress reduction, physical strength, and mental resilience help them thrive.

This is a freelance article by Helen Murchison.

Yoga for Children with ADHD

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Yoga for Children with ADHD
Recent findings across the globe on the beneficial effects of yoga have led this practice to be embraced by adults and children alike. Yoga is used to provide pain relief for migraines and backache, to relieve stress and to increase vitality. It is also considered a complementary therapy for illnesses such as atherosclerosis, breast cancer and many mental conditions (such as anxiety, depression and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), with powerful stress- and fatigue-fighting effects. Yoga is also used with children, to help increase concentration and decrease bullying; learning the art of pranayamic breathing enables little ones to remain focused and positive in the most difficult of times. Studies have also shown that yoga can be used with children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
ADHD: A Condition Affecting Millions of Children
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the US, approximately 11 per cent of children aged between four and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD since 2011, with numbers increasing as the years progress. The average ADHD diagnosis is made when a child is seven, and boys are more likely than girls to be affected (13.2% of boys vs 5.6% of girls). Children with ADHD display an array of symptoms, including frequent forgetfulness, squirming or fidgeting, talking a lot, finding it hard to resist temptation, having trouble with turn-taking, etc. This can lead to difficulties in relationships with others, both at home and in a school/social setting. Despite a plethora of studies, the precise causes of/risk factors for ADHD are unknown, though research suggests that the condition is related to genetics. Additional risk factors can include premature delivery, low birth weight and the use of alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy. There are three types of ADHD patients: those who are mainly hyperactive, those who find it difficult to concentrate, and those who display a combination of these qualities. Treatment is varied and can include medication, therapy or a combination of these approaches. Recent studies have shown that yoga can also have an important role to play in soothing many of ADHD’s most difficult symptoms.
Yoga Helps Kids with ADHD: The Findings
A 2013 study published in the journal, ISRN Pediatrics, found that yoga improved school performance in a group of children with diagnosed ADHD. The study involved 69 participants, who took part in a program called Climb-Up, which involved yoga, meditation and play therapy. Parents and teachers were then asked to assess the behavior of the children using the Vanderbilt questionnaire for ADHD. The researchers found that 46% of children improved significantly in terms of their behavior (according to their teachers) and 92% improved (according to their parents). The authors concluded that yoga could form part of cost-effective programs to tackle ADHD at schools.
Another study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders sought to study the effect of yoga on 19 school-aged boys with ADHD, who were on medication. The kids took part in either 20 sessions of yoga or in control activities. Researchers found a significant improvement in behavior of children in the yoga group, and those who practiced yoga at home in addition to taking part in the program, showed an even greater level of improvement.
A third study published by German scientists separated a group of 19 children into two groups: one took part in regular yoga sessions and the other performed traditional exercise routines. The study found that those in the yoga group once again displayed significantly reduced symptoms. They were found to improve in behavior and in the ability to concentrate.
Why Yoga?
The exact mechanisms that make yoga so successful at dealing with ADHD are unknown, though it is suspected that it may be related to yoga’s powerful ability to augment concentration and reduce cortisol (stress hormone levels) through a combination of pranayamic breathing, asanas and meditation. Yoga enhances our ability to be ‘in the here and now’, a skill which is so vitally needed in particular by ADHD sufferers with concentration difficulties. Yoga also enhances the mind’s ability to control thoughts, feelings and actions, thereby enabling children and adults alike to prevent conflicting thoughts and desires from disturbing their concentration and tranquility. Yoga has the unique ability to teach us how to concentrate and relax at the same time… it encourages a way of living that children can embrace and flourish through for the rest of their lives.
This is a freelance article by Helen Murchison

Children are Well Versed in Achieving the Delicate Movements that Yoga Requires

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Parents are always looking for new ways to enhance their children’s intelligence and discipline.However they need to make sure that it’s not boring! Yoga is the perfect solution to this problem.

Read on if you’re in this predicament:


Quiet
Children often have a hard time being quiet in the classroom. Since yoga is a very silent activity, it can help them to learn that being quiet does not have to mean being bored. If they become comfortable with silence outside of the classroom, they may not be as likely to chat during a lesson in school.

Various
Howard Gardner is famous for his theory of multiple intelligences, and yoga can help children to better understand some of the theory’s concepts. For example, children who are well versed in achieving the delicate movements that yoga requires will be working on their body/movement/kinesthetic intelligence. Additionally, children who are introduced to yoga as a spiritual and/or reflective movement will be working on their intrapersonal intelligence skills. They will be communicating with themselves and learning more about themselves as a result of the quiet, reflective moments that yoga provides to them. Children can see that intelligence does not come in a “one size fits all” package.
Learning
Anyone who has practiced yoga certainly knows that it is no easy task. Yoga requires paying careful attention to the structure of the poses, since the poses are at the heart of a yoga session. By taking part in a session or series of classes, children will quickly learn how important it is to pay attention to the
exact movements that the instructor is doing. The instructor will most likely walk around and help them to achieve these poses. Such precision can help children in school. As a result of yoga, they may wind up paying more attention to the exact way in which the art teacher uses a technique or the math teacher
solves a problem.
Not
Chances are, children are not going to get every single yoga move correct the first time that they do it. One of the wonderfully motivating aspects about yoga is that instructors are generally very patient and focused on helping their students week after week. As long as the child is actually trying, the instructor is going to provide constructive feedback in a non-judgmental way. Yoga is a way for children to realize that they do not have to be perfect, but if they keep trying with a lot of effort, they can completely succeed in certain disciplines. Clearly, yoga has a number of benefits for children, two of which are increasing the child’s understanding and potential for intelligence and determination. These two qualities are important for children to learn about, since they can absolutely and directly affect the success and levels of achievement that the child has in the educational setting.
Milo Hunting writes about parenting, fitness & finance.

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