Baltimore school replaces detention with mandatory meditation

BALTIMORE -- A school in Baltimore is taking a different approach to dealing with disciplinary problems from students by replacing detention with mandatory meditation.

Along with writing, reading and math, at Coleman Elementary in Inner City Baltimore, students also study breathing, with mindfulness classes woven into their every day.

And if a student acts up, they're not sent to the principal's office - they're sent to the "Mindful Moment Room" where they're given a chance to recenter.

So what do the students think about when they're meditating?

"I think happy thoughts. To make Baltimore a safe place for the kids and other people because Baltimore is kinda like a gang place where people keep killing people but it doesn't need it. Baltimore don't need it. The place just needs to be safe," said student, Artavia Tubman.

Artavia says violence is something that worries her.

"My father he got shot when I was 4. I saw him before he got shot. He got shot when he was going to the movies by himself," she said. Adding, "Every time I get mad I just breathe and it helped me calm down."

Andy Gonzales helped launch the program in Baltimore about 15 years ago with two local brothers.

"A lot of overwhelming external stimuli and trauma that these kids have to face, so for them to have tools to better self-regulate to manage themselves and their emotions and to make them healthier mentally physically and emotionally, I think it just makes the climate of the school better for academics," he said.

And with a combination of movement exercises, breathing and mindfulness, he says the kids behavior slowly changes.

"95% of my class who goes out for the mindful room, they come back and they'll be at peace and at work," said first grade teacher, Tayamisha Von Hendricks.

The goal is that they'll not only be at peace for the rest of the day, but hopefully for the rest of their lives.

"Take 5, take 2 minutes your of your day, take a minute - just stop and be," said Gonzales.

The Holistic Life Foundation says they want to expand the success they've had in Baltimore to schools across the country.

And now other programs are tapping in to mindful mediation as well, using it to help soldiers returning from war, over stressed executives, and everyday families at home.
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