Who she is: Amy Perez, 38, director of mindfulness at Mighty Writers, whose mission is to teach children to think clearly and write with clarity.
The problem: When kids arrived at Mighty Writers after-school programs, they were too riled up to settle quickly into the curriculum.
What Perez knew from her 16 years teaching in Philly public schools: “Kids bring a lot through the door — they’re still with what just happened. They got an F on a test. There was a fight on the bus. Their minds are elsewhere.”
What she learned from her years as a yoga instructor: Mindfulness is the antidote to chaos. It’s being present to your body, thoughts, and feelings.
How it came together for the Mighty Writers: Perez taught them mindfulness practices — deep breathing, honest sharing in a circle about their day, nonjudgmental listening to each other, journaling about it afterward — to pull them into the moment.
The result: The kids calmed down more quickly, were more compassionate toward each other, and improved their focus.
Parent reaction: Amazement. “They said their child felt more positive, was talking more directly with them. Even the introverted kids were opening up more.”