In the hours after the devastating Camp Fire began in November 2018, smoke laced the skies several hundred miles away. The deadliest wildfire in California’s history kept us inside and our kids out of school while we waited out the poor air conditions. In a few days, our lives returned to normal. For the people of Paradise, however, there was no normal to return to.
The horrific headlines grabbed our attention and hearts, urging us to respond in the days and weeks immediately following the destructive fires. Many made donations to nonprofit organizations on the scene, collected food and clothing items and made sure they reached people in need. Others traveled to Paradise bringing supplies and open hearts.
While our attention may have turned elsewhere in the months since then, for the Paradise families affected by the fires, the traumatic experience of losing loved ones, homes, schools and community is still very raw. When people experience emotional trauma, stress, anxiety, sadness and feelings of disconnect and insecurity linger. Sleeplessness, irritability, lack of focus and muscle tension are just a few of the physical symptoms people might experience.
As the people of Paradise continue on their road to recovery, they need our ongoing love, care and resiliency tools more than ever. That’s why Mindful Littles and OrindaCares created the Peace Kits for Paradise project. OrindaCares is a collaboration among Mindful Littles, Orinda Union School District, the City of Orinda, Miramonte High School and the Orinda Rotary to bring mindful service learning experiences to Orinda school children.
Working with elementary school students and teachers throughout the Orinda Union School District over the course of eight days, Mindful Littles is putting together 300 Peace Kits to deliver to children at Ponderosa Elementary School in Paradise.
Inside, kids will find 11 items to help them cope with stress including stress-release balls, a weighted eye pillow, a mindfulness book, bubble wands, affirmations, an anchor friendship bracelet, gratitude journals and several other items to help them relieve their anxiety and find peace.
Each item was carefully selected to help Paradise students ground, relax, connect and heal. On delivery day, also known as a Day of Peace, Mindful Littles volunteers will lead students, teachers and families though several mindfulness practices using the items in their kit. The kits also include a detailed instruction booklet so students, teachers and families know how to continue practices at home and at school.
While excitement is building in the East Bay around preparations for the Day of Peace, our partners in Paradise are truly looking forward to practicing mindfulness together as well.
“This is one of the best projects I have seen,” says Paradise Unified School District Superintendent Michelle John. “I am very excited to be a small part of this.”
Says Mindful Littles founder Tanuka Gordon, “As parents, while we may recognize not everything in life is in our control, the prospect of raising our children in uncertain times can feel scary…the most powerful gift we can give our kids is to teach them to believe in themselves as courageous, compassionate beings.”
Our Peace Kits project shows children that how they respond in a given situation matters. We hope our Peace Kits and mindfulness practice help the children, families and teachers at Ponderosa Elementary find peace as they heal from trauma.