Left to right: Tara Healey, M.A., Program Director for Mindfulness Learning, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care; Paula Black, Assistant Director of Student Services, Newton Public Schools; Christopher Willard, Psy.D., Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Mitch Abblett., Ph.D., Executive Director, Institute for Meditation & Psychotherapy , Manville School at Judge Baker Children’s Center; Margie Daniels, Executive Director, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc.; Fiona Jensen, OTR/L, Founder and Executive Director, Calmer Choice; Ed Hauben, Director, Newton Community Education, Newton Public Schools; Dan Harris, Correspondent for ABC News, Anchor for Nightline and co-Anchor for the Weekend Edition of Good Morning America; Marian Ryan, District Attorney, Middlesex County; Jessica Morey, M.A., Executive Director, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education
MARLBOROUGH – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. (MPY) hosted the annual spring school safety conference, SECURE XIX – “Unlocking the Power of Mindfulness,” last week at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough.
At this year’s conference more than 320 attendees learned best practices on how mindfulness can be used to reduce stress and anxiety for employees and students. This event is part of District Attorney Ryan’s ongoing efforts to bring educators, law enforcement officials and community members together to keep students safe.
“Students today are feeling a lot of stress in their everyday life. In addition to personal challenges, they are also feeling a tremendous pressure to succeed at school. Mindfulness is a much-needed tool for both students and educators to learn a healthy way to cope and reduce anxiety, particular when things go wrong,” said District Attorney Ryan. “By learning these skills now, they will be more likely to go on to succeed in their adult lives.”
District Attorney Ryan spoke about the importance of addressing student stress and anxiety by encouraging resiliency. The SECURE Conference supports the ongoing mission of District Attorney Ryan to provide young people with the tools to find positive and healthy ways to face the obstacles they encounter both at school and at home.
“Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool not just for students, but for educators as well,” said MPY Executive Director Margie Daniels. “When we manage our emotions and our reactions to stress through mindfulness, we can have better interactions with students. This conference brought together a knowledgeable group of experts to give Middlesex County professionals some tools to incorporate mindfulness into their lives and work.”
More than 320 school professionals, law enforcement and community partners, attended the conference, which featured remarks from Dan Harris, Correspondent for ABC News, Anchor for Nightline and Co-Anchor for the Weekend Edition of Good Morning America, and author of the New York Times bestseller 10% Happier. Harris closed the conference by sharing the personal story of how his on-air panic attack led him to practicing mindfulness. During his remarks Harris stressed that while being mindful does not change the problems in your life, it does help you respond to your problems rather than react to them.
Tara Healey, Program Director for Mindfulness Learning at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, opened the event by leading attendees in several meditation practices. Her remarks focused on the science behind mindfulness and the positive impacts of meditation and breathing exercises.
The conference also featured a panel discussion with experts who provided real world applications for mindfulness techniques by sharing their personal stories and offering advice for educators on how to incorporate mindfulness into their schools and engage students in the practice. Panelists included: Mitch Abblett., Ph.D., Executive Director, Institute for Meditation & Psychotherapy, Manville School at Judge Baker Children’s Center; Jessica Morey, M.A., Executive Director, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education; Christopher Willard, Psy.D., Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; and Fiona Jensen, OTR/L, Founder and Executive Director, Calmer Choice.
Two high school students from the Middlesex School in Concord spoke about their personal experience with mindfulness and the benefits they have experienced as a result of meditation.
MPY is a non-profit organization which provides prevention and intervention resources and training to Middlesex school districts and communities. Through the efforts of District Attorney Ryan and MPY, educators, parents, and students can regularly engage in collaborative trainings with law enforcement, social services, and community-based organizations as well as share the latest information and resources. Such interactions provide the foundation for creating solution-oriented, community-based, multi-disciplinary approaches to addressing youth violence, substance abuse, child abuse and neglect, hate crimes and harassment across Middlesex County.