Taking Mindfulness into the Community—Here’s an App for You!

If you think teaching mindfulness would be helpful for people in schools, hospitals, or in crisis mental health settings, first, I agree with you. Second, you’ll want to finish reading this blog about a wonderful organization called movemindfully®  and what they’ve accomplished in the Twin Cities area. But most of all, learn about the resources they have created for use in communities where you live.

Sometimes you just start with a question… “what if?” That’s what Kathy Flaminio, a school social worker in the Minneapolis Public Schools, did fifteen years ago when she asked herself,  “What if students and staff could incorporate simple mindfulness and movement practices into their day? And “What would this look like in the classroom and beyond?”

The history that follows makes my head spin about as much as Kathy does when you watch her do her morning exercise routine! I met Kathy last summer at a yoga retreat in Montana when she came along with a dear friend of mine Chrissy Mignogna, and we all roomed together. Chrissy works as the Lead Trainer and Director of Education for the company Kathy founded in 2009. Last summer Kathy and her team were working on the final touches of the movemindfully App, the culmination of years of work that both Chrissy and Kathy have accomplished in the Twin Cities at schools, hospitals, and juvenile services centers.

What is movemindfully?

movemindfully is a training and consulting company that brings the science of mindfulness, movement, and social-emotional learning into simple trauma-responsive practices that are used in educational, therapeutic, corporate, and home environments. They offer training, workshops, products, consultation, and curricula that teach simple mind-body practices for self-regulation, focus, and overall well-being. Based on the latest research in neuroscience and best practices for intervening with trauma, anxiety, and depression, their tools include card decks, posters, books, and their new movemindfully App that illustrates their signature Breathe Move Rest practices.

Their movemindfully Card Decks and Permission to Pause Posters provided visuals that were so easy to follow educators intentionally started using the Breathe Move Rest practices to meet their students’ needs throughout the school day. Now the movemindfully App is available to make the tools even more accessible to people both in schools and around the world.

Where are these tools being used?

The focus of movemindfully has been in schools, hospitals, and juvenile services supporting youth, educators, therapists, and families to integrate mind-body practices for physical, emotional, and mental health. movemindfully has also been integrated into crisis mental health units with child/adolescent, adults, and seniors.

Currently, they are providing 46 classes/week in two hospitals, 4 classes/week in Juvenile Services, 2 classes/week at Newport Academy (a mental health treatment program for teens and young adults.)  The educational and therapeutic settings are too many to list. Check out the list here.  

Testimonial: “movemindfully has partnered for nearly five years with Dakota County’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), to provide training and technical assistance to dozens of schools across 7 separate public school districts. Students, staff, families, and cultural liaisons have benefited from their mind-body calming and self-regulation techniques that have successfully bolstered districts’ social-emotional learning (SEL) plans. Dakota County SHIP values the expertise, creativity, and passion each of their staff brings to this critical work of fostering resilience in a culturally-tailed way – especially during these extremely stressful times.” Marguerite Zauner, Coordinator of Dakota County Statewide Health Improvement Partnership

What are the biggest benefits people see from using movemindfully techniques?

movemindfully provides simple ways to bring movement, breathing, and SEL (social-emotional  learning) skills into the school day through:

·      Breathing and movement which enhances students’ ability to learn important SEL skills

·     Strengthening the mind-body connection. This builds skills to reduce reactivity and increases students’ ability to make good choices

Breathe Move Rest practices help children, youth, and adults feel more prepared to navigate the joys and challenges of each day. They feel more safe, more present, more focused, and more connected. With consistent practice, individuals can access these tools quickly – in the moment, when they are needed to regulate big emotions, increase energy levels, and improve focus. And, they are easy to implement in classrooms and therapeutic settings.

Why did they create the movemindfully App?

After years of working in the schools and hospitals on child and adolescent mental health units,  teachers and clinicians were asking for a digital format of movemindfully products.  They were also training educators in other countries such as Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. In order to expand their work, they needed to figure out how to make these simple Breathe Move Rest practices more accessible so they can be used throughout the day. 

Testimonial: “I’ve loved using the movemindfully App. Since I have ADHD I tend not to be focused and have a lot of energy. It only took 5 minutes and left me with a calmness throughout my body.”– Brooklyn, 12-year-old student  

Take movemindfully to your community

I couldn’t be more excited about the work that Kathy and Chrissy have accomplished and the service they are offering to people young and old. I am amazed at the breadth of their achievements because I know how difficult it can be to bring mindfulness to institutions that are not necessarily known for trying “new” ideas. As I can see from looking at their reach, when something works well, though, those institutions open their doors and ask for more.

If you are in a position to make a difference at a school, hospital, juvenile services, or crisis mental health center, these tools could be a great service to your students and clients. If you are a parent, these tools would be great for your child. Check out the movemindfully App and the other tools that are available through movemindfully.

And, if you would like more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to Chrissy or Kathy at info@move-mindfully.com. They would be happy to talk to you about how they came to be such a thriving mindful resource in their communities and you can make yours one too.