Tuesday, March 19, 2019

HERE WE GO AGAIN: Trump says eliminate afterschool in 2020!

Source: pressfrom.info

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Afterschool programs are now a part of the community landscape. Afterschool has been around for over a hundred years, making important contributions to families and the larger society. 

This next year, under President Trump, federal support of afterschool is again threatened. According to our partners at the Afterschool Alliance

“President Trump’s budget calls for eliminating federal funding for local afterschool and summer programs. If the funding is not maintained, nearly two million children and families would be left without reliable afterschool choices.  
More than 19 million families want and need more afterschool and summer learning opportunities. For every child in a program, two are waiting to get in. Closing 10,000+ afterschool programs will hurt families and children in every part of the country. 
You can make a difference: call on Congress to protect funding for afterschool and summer learning programs.”

According to the Trump Administration budget summary, the justification for eliminating the 21st CCLC is, “This program (21st CCLC) lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.” Research has shown that this is patently untrue. 

The Afterschool Alliance has made it easy to tell your representatives in Congress to stand up for the programs America's children and families rely on. CLICK HERE

Source: CalSAC

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week

Source: National AfterSchool Association
By Sam Piha

Afterschool programs are now a part of the community landscape, with over 10.2 million young participants. Few are even aware that afterschool has been around for over a hundred years, making important contributions to families and the larger society.

Afterschool professionals, numbering over 850,000, are often not acknowledged. But we can change that! Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week is April 22-26. 

According to the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), “this is a joint effort of community partners, afterschool programs, youth and child development workers and individuals who have committed to declaring the last full week of April each year as a time to recognize and appreciate those who work with youth during out-of-school hours.” 

There are a number of ways organizations, schools, parents and program leaders can recognize and appreciate afterschool workers: 

  • Issue an appreciation shout out 
  • “Thank you” card for afterschool program staff 
  • Watch and share the brief Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week video produced by NAA

  • Plan a “Thank You” activity or event 
  • Appreciate the long history and contributions of afterschool youth programs in America: Few are aware that afterschool has been around for over a hundred years, making important contributions to families and the larger society. To ensure that afterschool stakeholders appreciate the long history of afterschool youth programs in America, Temescal Associates and the How Kids Learn Foundation have created a video to document this history, as well as a trailer, media kit and learning guide. 

Join in the celebrations and display your appreciation of afterschool professionals who make a difference in the lives of young people. NAA has developed a toolkit and a number of ideas for AfterSchool Professionals Appreciation Week. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Interview with Ivan Garcia, Youth Activist

By Sam Piha

Ivan Garcia
Ivan Garcia is a youth activist in Oakland. We first heard about Ivan’s work through a program by a local NPR station. This program was later turned into a brief video. At the How Kids Learn VIII conference, Ivan was a presenter and panelist on the subject of youth activism. 

We interviewed Ivan and some of his responses are below. 

Q: How did you become active in social causes?

A: I first became involved in 2016, following the Presidential Election. All my classmates and I felt that we needed to speak up and use our voices to share our opinions. I took it upon myself, to create a class video, titled “Dear Mr. Trump” which is a video of our opinions, fears, and hopes for President-Elect Donald Trump at the time. The video has now garnered over 4,000 views and it served as a way for me to connect with many young people who felt as though their voices weren’t being heard.

Q: What are you doing currently?

A: Currently, I serve on the Oakland Youth Commission, serve on the Youth Advisory Board for Youth + Tech + Health, and am an intern for Mayor Libby Schaaf. The Oakland Youth Commission is a group of young people who advise the City Council and Mayor on issues affecting youth in Oakland. With that also comes the task of writing policy and doing lots of outreach to community groups. Youth + Tech + Health, is an organization that provides mental health and sexual health resources to young people all around the world, especially developing nations. Most recently, I helped with a text campaign they have going on in Honduras currently, which tackles the issue of teen dating violence. Lastly, working with the Mayors office, I have a chance to hear from many constituents and learn the inner workings of City Hall.

“I love Ivan. He's a leader. I can't wait for him to sit in my office. And I mean be the mayor. He's going to be an amazing mayor.
And maybe [to Ivan] you're going to bring your talents to some better pursuit besides politics. Whatever it's gonna be, it's gonna be amazing. And you always do it, Ivan, with love and respect.”
-Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Q:In your view, why is youth voice and youth activism important? 

A: Youth activism, in my view is crucial as it gives young people the opportunity to have their voice heard while expressing themselves in a way that is unique. Being an “activist” can be anything from being an artist to working with lawmakers to create policies that will benefit all people. It also equips youth with many skills that are essential, such as networking, organizing, public speaking, and much more. It’s important for young people to feel as though they have a say in the policies that will affect them in the long run.

Ivan Garcia at HKL VIII Conference
Q: What advice do you have for afterschool programs who want to provide opportunities for youth to become actively involved?

A: I would tell afterschool programs to give students the freedom to try different methods of expression. Don’t limit a young person’s perspective and provide safe spaces where they can feel free to be themselves. Creating an environment that encourages truth and honesty can go a long way for young people who want to be active in their communities. Furthermore, I think it’s important to note that adult allies, should support the work of young people, but not take over and determine the way that work should be done. That should be done by the students, themselves. Lastly, bring people in who are doing this work as an example to motivate other students. It’s not a competition, but it’s one way that students can often see what’s possible when they think about more than just themselves.

Q: What activities and issues do you think youth are most interested in? 

A: Most recently, I think youth have been invested in gun violence, given the many incidents that have rocked our nation. Following Parkland, many young people created groups and organizations that are still doing meaningful work in their communities. Some other areas of interest for youth, I think are: criminal justice reform, sexual assault and harassment, and education (especially in places where schools are underfunded and under resourced).

Q: Looking ahead, what are your plans for continuing your activism? 

A: To be honest, I’m not quite sure what plans I have next. Lately, I’ve taken a step back from some of the work I was previously doing and have engaged in deep discussions with many of my peers. It’s been humbling to be in spaces with people my age, discussing things that matter to us. I hope to continue to touch the hearts of people along the way and work on a project that helps all young people find what it is that they love to do and are inspired by.

Ivan Garcia is a freshman at Head-Royce School in Oakland. Ivan is a member of the Oakland Youth Advisory Committee. He played a key role in the March for Our Lives Oakland rally and is a Youth Ambassador for Litterati, an app that makes it easy for anyone to create an environmental impact around the world. Ivan is proud to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. He hopes to inspire others to love themselves for who they are and fight for a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

An Interview with Youth Development Researcher, Reed Larson

By Sam Piha

According to the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, "Reed Larson’s seminal research on the lives of teenagers helped to launch the field of positive youth development, and his insights and findings continue to enrich the work of mentoring researchers. His work explores the contexts of daily life and how developmental processes unfold in extra-curricular activities."
Deborah Vandell

Researcher, Deborah Vandell (UC Irvine), stated, "Reed Larson did some really  important work looking at the development of initiative and engagement. What he found is that when children are in school what they often are doing is putting forth a lot of effort, but they're not really motivated. What happens in afterschool activities, when they're really working, when they're active, they're choosing those activities and they are also focused on them. It's the best combination for learning."

Reed Larson will share his work at a Speaker's Forum entitled, "How Demanding Program Roles Can Facilitate Youth’s Positive Development" on April 19, 2019 in Oakland, CA. You can register here. We recently interviewed Reed and some of his responses are below.

Reed Larson
Q: You have been a pioneer in the field of youth development. What drew you to this work? 
A: I have done research and teaching on the age period of adolescence all my life. We know it is a time of enormous potentials for growth. Yet our society does not get that. Teens are disrespected, misunderstood, and terribly underestimated. As a result, they are not given the opportunities to develop their potentials. I discovered that after school and out of school programs were the main exception. They are a part of teens’ lives where they have opportunities to develop their full potentials.

Q: The work of promoting youth development is not easy. In your research, what did you find to be the greatest challenges facing youth workers? 
A: There are a lot of challenges: being present and attuned to youth, being both a friend and a mentor, teacher, or sometimes parent; seeing societal injustice and hurt in teens; having too few resources; taking care of yourself at the same time you are engaged in caring relationships with others. 

Q: What settings and practices are most successful in engaging youth? 
A: I don’t claim to have all the answers. But in our research, youth have described becoming highly motivated in youth program settings where they feel safe, feel they belong, experience positive relationships, and experience a culture that supports these positive ways of being. Further, in settings where they are engaged in activities: that have meaningful goals, are challenging while allowing them to experience competence, and involve high-functioning collaborative relationships. I’ve also observed that high quality programs provide an environment that helps youth disengage from distractions and anxieties in their lives at the beginning of the program session, and reflect on what they have learned at the end.  

Q: What is the most important lesson that you learned in your research? 
A: I have seen again and again that young people have enormous resources. They can be extremely resilient. They are eager, active learners who learn from experiences. They are ready to have deep insights about complex social and emotional truths. We just need to provide the right conditions for them to feel save, loved, and to see a way forward. 

Q: What most surprised you? 
A: It is maybe not a surprise, but I have been impressed by meeting many, many wonderful, smart, and caring people who have devoted themselves to working with young people. It has been increasingly clear to me that to improve programs the field needs to seek out, understand, and draw on the expertise of experienced youth development practitioners. Communication between researchers and practitioners need to involve two-way conversations. 

Q: What are you working on currently? 
A: We just finished a research paper on how “substantive demanding roles” can provide powerful opportunities for youth’s development of new competencies, including responsibility to others. (This will be the main topic of my Speaker's Forum presentation). Although my research has been mainly focused on processes of positive development, I am currently interested in times when youth in programs experience “psychological meltdowns” from a setback or being overwhelmed, and how staff are effective in helping youth respond with resiliency. 

Reed Larson’s seminal research on the lives of teenagers helped to launch the field of positive youth development, and his insights and findings continue to enrich this field. His work has involved over a thousand interviews with youth and front line staff in diverse youth development programs. It has focused on understanding how developmental experiences unfold in programs (including extracurricular activities) and how program staff are effective in supporting these learning processes. His team’s research was the basis for the Weikart Foundation’s research-practitioner collaboration that identified effective staff practices for supporting social emotional learning in programs. Reed is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was recently the President of the Society for Research on Adolescence. He also served as Editor-in-Chief of New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development (with Lene Jensen).

Friday, February 15, 2019

Collaboration Leads to Successful SEL Implementation

By Guest Blogger, Jennifer Peck

Jennifer Peck
As educators, afterschool providers, and advocates for children, we know social emotional learning (SEL) is the foundation for academic success for all students — especially children experiencing trauma and extreme stress. The challenge we face today is implementation and that challenge is why we joined others (ASAPconnect, CalSAC, California AfterSchool Network, and Temescal Associates) in forming the Expanded Learning 360°/365 initiative in 2015. That challenge is why The Aspen Institute released its recommendations for SEL implementation earlier this month, and why our partner, Temescal Associates researched and published Promoting SEL and Character Skills in Expanded Learning Programs.

Partnership for Children and Youth’s focus within the 360°/365 initiative is to assist California school districts with SEL implementation across the school day, afterschool, and summer. The American Institutes for Research evaluated Expanded Learning 360°/365’s work and saw impact like:

  • Increased Professional Development: Monthly videos, articles, and activities to build common SEL understanding; meetings to align practices; and sessions to build culturally responsive teaching practices and student and adult SEL strategies.
Source (clockwise): LA's BEST; Kimochi Dolls; and Educare Foundation
  • Collaboration Between School-Day & Expanded Learning Staff: Deliberate efforts built into SEL action plans included joint classroom walkthroughs and expanded learning staff participating in school-day staff meetings.
  • Stronger Data Usage & Sharing: Engaged in a cycle of continuous improvement using student data to establish system- and site-level goals, assess readiness, and track progress; including pre-post measures of relationship skill-building, SEL competencies, school climate, and program observations.

This evaluation affirms that collaboration and accountability are powerful forces for change — and that skilled facilitation is an essential catalyst for deep, effective collaboration. We are eager to share the lessons learned from the Expanded Learning 360°/365 initiative and hope you find this to be a useful resource as you expand SEL in your community.

If you have questions or are interested in partnering with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thank you for everything you do for California’s students. Please share the findings widely! Here is a sample tweet you can customize:

Quality #SEL implementation takes collaboration between school-day, #afterschool, and summer staff, according to a new evaluation: https://www.partnerforchildren.org/resources/2019/1/29/the-key-to-bringing-social-emotional-learning-to-life #edchat #k12  

Jennifer Peck, Executive Director, has led the Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY) since the organization’s founding in 2001.  During this time, she has grown PCY to be the leading California intermediary building access to high quality expanded learning opportunities for students living in our state’s lowest-income communities. Jennifer led the creation of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, the California Summer Matters Campaign, the California Community Schools Network, and HousED which builds on-site learning supports for students living in public and affordable housing. 

Dr. Shawn Ginwright
Temescal Associates recently sponsored a Speaker’s Forum led by Dr. Shawn Ginwright on the topic of Healing Centered Engagement.  For those that were unable to attend, Flourish Agenda is sponsoring a webinar on March 21st, 2019 at 10am PST on Healing Centered Engagement facilitated by Dr. Ginwright. This is a free online event but space is limited and filling up fast. To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Best Posts of 2018

By Sam Piha

Since we launched the Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS) project, we have published over 354 blog posts, attracting 410,062 views. In 2018, we published 34 blog posts, attracting 57,050 views. Below, we list some of our favorites and most viewed posts.

Photo Credit: ResponsiveClassroom.org
The Power of Sharing Circles (May 2018)
We know that bringing together young people and offering them the opportunity to have their individual voices heard in the larger community is an important practice. We are referring to “talking or sharing circles” - bringing youth together in a circle and asking each individual to speak while the rest of the group practices active listening. Read more.

New Educational Trends and Terms (April 2018)
In America, educational trends and thinking don’t evolve. Instead, they tend to swing like a pendulum or cycle back and forth. To see a good example, just look at the writings of John Dewey from the early 1900s. Read more.

Shawn Ginwright
Shifting From Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement (August 2018) 

Dr. Ginwright recently authored an article entitled Shifting From Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement. In this post, we offer a few excerpts from his article and urge everyone to read it in its entirety. Read more.

In the Aftermath of Parkland: What is the Role of Expanded Learning Programs? (March 2018)
We were shocked and dismayed by another mass shooting, this one at  Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. As a field that promotes safety, youth voice, and youth civic engagement, we commend the students that have spoken up about gun violence. Read more.

HEARTSET: Transforming Teaching & Learning (March 2018) 
Have you ever thought that the challenges that educators face today are different from any in modern time?  With political and social unrest creating a stressful environment, how can we best uplift ourselves and assist our young people deal with life and learning? Read more.

How Not to Lose Your Mind Over Every New Trend in Your Field (March 2018)
It sometimes feels like risking whiplash to try to follow all the emerging trends in our field and the potential funding, resources and opportunities that come along with them. Every few years, sometimes more often, there are new trends that are often accompanied by or are a part of funding opportunities. Some of these trends stick around for awhile until something newer, younger and sexier gets introduced. Some trends seem to come around in cycles. Read more.

Johanna Masis
Johanna Masis Sharing Circles: Cyphers (May 2018)
At Oakland Leaf, all of our programs incorporate the practice of Cyphers. We believe in the power of people's stories and life experiences regardless of how many years they have been alive.  There is a collective wisdom that exists and needs to be honored. When we practice Cyphers, or community circles, the benefits are immense. Read more.

An Interview with Researcher Deborah Lowe Vandell (October 2018)
Deborah Lowe Vandell has been a leading researcher on expanded learning programs since 1985. Dr. Vandell agreed to respond to our interview questions regarding her research on the field of afterschool. Read more.

What Difference Does It Make? An Interview with Milbrey McLaughlin
Milbrey McLaguhlin
(June 2018)

Dr. McLaughlin recently released a new book entitled, You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: The Power of Opportunity to Change Young Lives. In this post, we offer her responses to a few questions regarding her work. Read more.

Practitioners Speak Out: Serving the Needs of Immigrant Youth (February 2018)
We previously published a blog post on the issue of supporting immigrant families and their children in afterschool. We want to follow this up by hearing directly from youth practitioners from Educators For Fair Consideration (E4FC) that specialize in serving this population. Read more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope

By Sam Piha

On Jan. 15, Aspen's National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released a report, From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope: Recommendations from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development

This report calls on all of us to ensure that all youth have access to quality social and emotional learning (SEL). We advise anyone who works with youth, whether in the classroom or in the community, to read this report. View the full report and its complementary research, practice, and policy briefs at NationatHope.org

Karen Pittman
When we interviewed Karen Pittman (Forum for Youth Investment and Aspen Report Commissioner) for the History of Afterschool documentary, we asked her about the rise of SEL and where afterschool fits in. She responded, “The concept of social, emotional and academic development has really sort of come to a frenzy in the past couple of years. It's certainly come to the attention of schools over the past decade.

Where does after school fit into all this? You would hope that we'd be right at the  forefront, saying, ‘We've been doing this for years. We know how to do it.’

Unfortunately, because we've been calling this youth development, when the K-12 field started to say, ‘We need to do social and emotional learning’, they were developing specific curricula around social and emotional learning, and we have a little bit of a language difference with K-12.

We think on the after school side that we know that these are the skills that young people are building, and we have had a focus on making sure that we're meeting those standards for developmental settings, and what we talked about is building quality programming. We’ve had a little bit of a hiccup in making sure that K-12 educators understand that when we talk about quality programming, we're talking about creating settings where these skills can happen.” 

Ms. Pittman also issued a letter to youth development leaders and funders regarding how best to leverage this report by the commission. You can read it here. You can also read commentaries by New York Times columnist David Brooks, by Rick Hess and Tim Shriver, and by Chester Finn

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Teacher Strikes and Afterschool

Source: Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times

By Sam Piha

Teacher strikes are not new, but they are on the increase. In 2018, teacher strikes occurred in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona. They also inspired smaller-scale protests by school staff in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Colorado. In 2019, we have seen strikes in Los Angeles (which appear to be settled), and there are rumblings in Denver, Chicago, and Oakland. Motivations for the strikes include increased wages for teachers and support staff, larger school budgets, and smaller class sizes. 

Teacher strikes are difficult for everyone – teachers, administrators, youth, and their families. They are equally difficult for school-based afterschool programs. This was recently reviewed in an article in Youth Today. To learn more, we spoke with an afterschool provider on the front lines about some of the challenges. See below.

"The big issue is that after school is being put in a position of frustrating either our teacher colleagues or our admin partners. We have been asked to have our staff come during the day to supervise the children, which annoys the teachers/picket line. If we say no, we annoy the Principal who is asking us for help as a partner. This is a total no-win.

We are working to keep the programs fully operational but only about 30% of students are attending school and you can only attend after school if you come to school. For average daily attendance (ADA) reimbursement contracts, this poses a tough financial situation. We have to keep the program open but get no ADA so we have no revenue. If we furlough part time staff we will lose them. If we pay them to show up but they have no students, we are wasting public and/or private funds. 

Source: WINGS for Kids!
If children need supervision before or after school during the strike, they deserve it. We would love to have the problem of too many kids. It is the opposite. We have many school-based programs. Yesterday the top ADA was 40. We had a few schools with less than 10 and one school where the principal told security to remove all kids from the campus even though the district mandated we run a full program. ADA was zero while our staff had to remain on campus.

We will not penalize students who do not come, in any way shape or form.  Getting the teachers to understand we are trying to help kids and families by being there for them while we fully support their right to collective bargaining is the hard part. We have no answers but we know we are not alone in really feeling the pain with this strike."

This raises several questions for afterschool policymakers and funders. Afterschool providers must be given guidance on the issues cited above. Although teacher strikes are considered a local issue, the funds supporting these programs are often at the state or federal level. Below we summarize some of the issues that need to be discussed and considered: 

  • Should afterschool providers be asked and agree to expand their hours in order to supervise children due to teacher shortages? 
  • Should afterschool providers be asked and agree to increase the number of kids in their programs during a strike?  
  • How will afterschool providers respond to a lower ADA? Will they be penalized? Should they furlough their staff?

It is important that these issues be considered and guidance be given to afterschool providers in advance of any strike. We look forward to seeing any progress on this and review any comments in responses to this post. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The History of Afterschool in America

By Stacey Daraio

Stacey Daraio
Afterschool programs are now a part of the community landscape. But, few are aware that afterschool has been around for over a hundred years, making important contributions to families and the larger society. 

To ensure that afterschool stakeholders appreciate the long history of afterschool youth programs in America, Temescal Associates and the How Kids Learn Foundation have created a video to document this history. In this documentary, we attempt to tell the full story of the history of afterschool, it’s important role as a unique institution serving low-income youth. It also looks at the contemporary afterschool field, and look to the future of afterschool programs.

Below we interview Sam Piha, Co-Director of Temescal Associates and producer of the documentary, The History of Afterschool in America.

Q: What inspired you to produce this documentary?
A: I was initially inspired by Robert Halpern’s book, Making Play Work. In this book, he offered a detailed history of out-of-school programs serving the needs of low-income youth. After reading this book, I created a series of Power Point slides on the history of afterschool, which I included in all of my presentations to afterschool stakeholders. Youth workers always responded with great interest and excitement in learning that they belong to something that was an important part of American history. From those experiences, I decided it was important to create a video documentary on the subject. 

Q: How was The History of Afterschool in America made?
A: This project took several years to complete. We identified nearly 20 afterschool leaders across the country and attained their agreement to participate in video interviews. We then contacted local youth media programs across the country that would lead these video recorded interviews for us. After researching this subject, we prepared a list of interview questions. We also simultaneously raised funds through private donations and small grants to begin this process. Change Agent Productions, a social enterprise dedicated to providing high quality media services while providing workforce opportunities for teens, agreed to assist us with producing a brief trailer and the final 60-minute documentary. 

Q: Who were the afterschool leaders that you interviewed? 
Karen Pittman
A: We were interested in enlisting leaders at the national, state, and local levels. National leaders included Karen Pittman (Forum for Youth Investment), Ellen Gannett (NIOST), Robert Granger (formerly WT Grant Foundation), Terry Peterson (Afterschool Alliance), Jodi Grant (Afterschool Alliance), and Pedro Noguera (UCLA), who served as our narrator. State leaders included Bonnie Reiss (USC), Brian Lee (Fight Crime - Invest in Kids), Jennifer Peck (Partnership for Children and Youth), and Sylvia Yee (formerly Haas, Jr. Fund). We also included interviews with youth, program and technical assistance leaders. 

Q: How is The History of Afterschool in America structured? 
A: The 60-minute documentary is broken into 12 brief chapters. This allows the flexibility to select those chapters that are most relevant to the audience. Chapters 1 through 3 examine the social upheaval beginning in the late 1800s, which served as the pre-conditions for the early afterschool movement. Chapters 4 and 5 introduce the growing need for child supervision, leading to the playground movement and the rise of afterschool youth programs. Chapters 6 through 12 look at the milestones and events that gave rise to the modern and greatly expanded afterschool movement we see today, and important program concepts and trends. 

Q: How can this documentary be used and who is the intended audience?
A: The intended audience includes afterschool staff and their stakeholders, older youth, and adults in higher education studying for a career working with young people (education, social work, leisure studies, child and adolescent development, etc.). This documentary is an excellent resource to orient and train new and existing youth program staff. 

Q: How can afterschool stakeholders use and/or promote The History of Afterschool in America documentary?  
  • Sponsor a viewing: Show this documentary to interested audiences. Because this documentary is lengthy, users may want to share it in its entirety, but in more than one sitting. 
  • Trailer: Build awareness of this documentary by showing the 2.5 minute trailer at conferences and other gatherings of afterschool stakeholders. 
  • Staff development: This documentary is an excellent resource to orient and train new and existing program staff.
  • Newsletters and social media: Organizations and individuals can promote awareness of this resource through their newsletters and social networks. 
  • Higher education: Instructors can show this documentary to students who are studying to enter a career working with youth. 

Q: Are there tools to assist those who want to use or promote this documentary? 
A: We are in the process of developing a media kit and learning guide for this purpose. The learning guide includes activities and discussion questions. This guide also includes a list of keywords and their definitions, and a historical timeline. The media kit will include information on the documentary such as a Q&A and sample text for use in newsletters, social media posts, etc. 

Q: How can people view and access the trailer and full documentary?
A: These can be downloaded for free. The documentary can also be purchased on DVD by contacting Temescal Associates


Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group that was formed in 2001. It is dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development. Sam began his career in 1974 as an afterschool worker, an experience that led to 10 years of classroom teaching, and later work as a child and family counselor and school social worker. Between 1989 and 2001, Sam developed and managed school-based youth programs at the regional and national levels.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Mindfulness Story For Kids By Kids

“From the creators of the hugely successful Master of Mindfulness, this charming children’s book for readers ages 4 to 7 tells the story of Nessa and Leo’s friendship, and how mindfulness helps them deal with strong emotions such as fear, shyness, and anger.”
-Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley

By Sam Piha

We have been promoting the use of mindfulness techniques in afterschool, for both young people and adult staff self-care, for many years. We are happy to announce that a second book created by young people on this topic was recently released. Below is an interview with Laurie Grossman who organized this effort.  

Laurie Grossman
Q: Can you say a word about what this book is about?
A: Breath Friends Forever is a book about two best friends who share the same birthday. One is often calm and the other often frustrated. As a birthday present, Leo teaches mindfulness, the power of using her breath when she gets upset, angry, nervous or sad. Leo teaches readers a few mindfulness techniques that are easy to use, one of which, the Sharkfin was originally created by Temescal Associate’s own Stacey Daraio.

Our world has become, it seems to me, more difficult to navigate for all of us, little ones included. Teaching kids mindfulness to deal with the challenges they face even at very early ages, can help them develop emotional regulation, deal with difficulties with more calm and make their lives happier and healthier. 

Q: Can you share some of the back story about how it was developed? 
A: In 2014, I was doing lots of volunteer work bringing mindfulness to Reach Academy in Oakland, CA. One day, Mr. Musumeci, a fifth grade teacher, mentioned to me that in selecting superheroes, one of his students thought they should have a mindfulness superhero. 

Several weeks later, while practicing mindfulness, it occurred to me that we should write a book. I asked the teacher what he thought and he thought it would be a great learning experience for the kids. I came into the class and asked them if they liked mindfulness. 100% did. I asked them if they thought other kids should know about it. 100% did. Finally I asked them how we could tell other kids about it and eventually someone said we could write a book. Voila, the beginning of the first book, Master of Mindfulness: How To Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress

That book did well so the publisher, New Harbinger, asked us to do one for older kids. Angelina Manriquez, the book designer, thought it would be more important to begin with the little ones, thus Breath Friends Forever was born. 

Chasmin Moses, a fourth grade teacher at Reach was a huge advocate of mindfulness. When I inquired about her interest in participating, she jumped at the chance. This book seemed much harder because we wanted to make it a story book for Pre-K through 1st or 2nd graders. We had no idea what the story would be or if the characters would be animals, zombies or people. It took about three months but we finally got the ball rolling and things started coming into place. 

Q: Can you say something about how this book can be used in afterschool programs?
A: All kids love birthdays and all kids need mindfulness. It's a great read a loud. Kids could practice what is taught in the book and kids can also listen to the practices the authors dictated to learn mindfulness. 

Older kids could read it to little ones. Kids could act out the story and they could also write their own books about mindfulness. Knowing that kids like them wrote and published a book could inspire them to do the same. 

Q: Is this book only for children who have experienced mindfulness practice?
A: No, because Leo teaches Nessa how to practice mindfulness so readers can learn too! Also, the authors' audio practices lead students through a variety of mindfulness practices.

Q: Are there any resources that afterschool leaders could use?
A: There are many resources providing research evidence, case studies of how schools have used mindfulness techniques, and guidance to program practitioners. Many of these can be founds by doing an online search of mindfulness techniques for youth. I have listed a few below: 

  • Temescal Associates’ Mindfulness in Afterschool: A 16-Session Curriculum of Mindfulness Activities for Young People in Afterschool Programs 
  • Inner Explorer is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide mindfulness in schools for PreK-12 classrooms, helping children develop self-awareness, self-control, resilience and compassion. Each series contains 90 audio-guided practices that can be used every day by simply logging in and pressing play. Students and their teachers participate together in the brief (5-10 minute) daily practices. No prep, planning or curriculum changes required.
  • Past LIAS Blog Posts on Mindfulness in Afterschool 

Laurie Grossman, one of the founders of the mindfulness in education movement, has been an activist since 1975. She believes that mindfulness in schools is the tool most likely to help achieve social justice. Over the last two decades, she started two innovative programs: one that created partnerships between private and public schools, and one that brought mindfulness into schools. In 2007, as part of Park Day School's Community Outreach Program, she and two colleagues launched a pilot program of mindfulness in an Oakland, CA, elementary school that was covered in The New York Times and on NBC. Grossman is cofounder of Mindful Schools, now one of the largest mindfulness-in-education programs in the world. She currently works with Inner Explorer, an organization focused on bringing daily mindfulness practices into schools to improve educational outcomes and the well-being of children and teachers. She is passionate about Inner Explorer because the organization has made mindfulness scalable, providing easy and immediate access to every K-12 classroom, anywhere, anytime.