The Great Start Parenting Class Adds Mindfulness Training to Curriculum

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”  -Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” 

-Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness, as a means of stress reduction, has been around for many years. Recently, mindfulness practices have entered the mainstream, providing opportunities for implementation in a variety of settings.

One of the goals of our A Great Start for Parents and Children is to provide tools to parents for managing stress in their daily lives. However, through surveys with recent participants we realized that we were not adequately addressing this key goal through our existing program.

In response, Emmaus House has formed a partnership with GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students and Georgia State University’s School of Public Health to develop and integrate mindfulness-related skills and concepts into our existing parenting education program.

Funding for this effort will come from a grant provided by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

Dr. Andy Roach at the Georgia State School of Public Health has experience using mindfulness-based interventions in many settings, including with first-year teachers to help manage stress as they learned to work with and support young learners. Based on previous research on the application of mindfulness in parenting interventions, Dr. Roach and Emmaus House are developing and implementing a modified-version of Mindfulness Without BordersMindfulness Ambassador Council Interactive (MAC Interactive) program.

The MAC Interactive program offers participants a forum to meet face-to-face and learn about constructive ways for addressing personal, social and community challenges. Essentially, the program establishes a common language based on sharing, modeling and practicing principles that provide members with tools to strengthen their well-being, think critically and act with thoughtfulness and compassion.

At the heart of the MAC Interactive program are basic mindfulness practices that help individuals access the wisdom within themselves and within the group. Participants are encouraged to speak from the heart, ask questions to discover their fullest potential, and explore possibilities that lead to a culture of mutual respect, collaboration and ethical concern for each other and the world.

This program’s selection was due, in part, to MWB’s success in developing and implementing mindfulness curriculum in diverse contexts and cultures. Our intervention will be unique in that the MAC interactive program will be adapted for use with parents and to be more culturally appropriate for the community Emmaus House serves.

 The Power of Partnership

GEEARS is working with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University to drive innovation in the field of early childhood through strategies that build caregiver capacity to promote healthy development and protect children from toxic stress. The partnership between Emmaus House and Georgia State University on the effectiveness of offering mindfulness-related skills in the ways we currently engage families will launch GEEARs’ network of Harvard’s Frontiers of Innovation projects in Georgia.