Today, September 9th, marks a major milestone for Mindful Littles. It is the official launch of our Healing Initiative in the Paradise Ridge community, which was greatly devastated by the Camp Fire 10 months ago.
Today we begin teaching our unique Mindful Littles classroom lessons in every elementary school classroom across all 3 elementary schools in the Paradise Unified School District. Our lessons will teach students critical mindfulness, yoga and social-emotional learning skills with the goal of helping these children build inner resilience, lower stress and anxiety, and develop compassion and a positive mindset for the future. In addition to the student lessons, our program provides self-care programs for educators and administrators, as well as service learning programs for the community. We are deeply honored and grateful to begin this important healing work for such a beautiful community.
The Mindful Littles story in Paradise is one of miracles. Last spring our small nonprofit, in partnership with Orinda Union School District, facilitated an initiative called Peace Kits for Paradise as part of our OrindaCares work. Over 8 school days, Mindful Littles led mindful service learning experiences for more than 1600 elementary school students in Orinda.
The students learned about the fire and resiliency, practiced loving-kindness and in buddy pairs assembled 300 Peace Kits. Inside each kit were 11 mindfulness tools including student-created breathing tools, gratitude journals, eye pillows and more. Orinda middle school students and many community volunteers joined the 8-day effort to help oversee the Peace Kit assembly process at each site.
Then on April 9th, a Day of Peace, the Orinda Union School District (OUSD) and Mindful Littles took a bus with almost 30 people up to Ponderosa Elementary School to deliver the kits. On the Day of Peace, our crew of 30 people including 8 OUSD students, spent the day teaching all the Ponderosa kids how to use the mindfulness tools in their Peace Kits teaching the children calming breath, ways to access gratitude and more. It was an unforgettable heartfelt day together and it became evident that the need for Mindful Littles work was critical in Paradise Ridge.
As the days unfolded, miracles transpired as we learned that the Ponderosa principal’s daughter, Lauryn Gregorio, was a walking embodiment of Mindful Littles. Not only is she a Paradise native, but she’s an experienced children’s mindfulness instructor, has led many international service learning programs and was ready and available to begin healing the Paradise Ridge community. Lauryn joined our Mindful Littles team right away and together with her incredible father, Ed Gregorio, we were able to develop our Healing Initiative for the community. The Paradise Unified School District obtained grant funding from North Valley Community Foundation to provide initial support for this program.
Lauryn is joined by another incredible facilitator, Travis Groft, a veteran who discovered mindfulness to cope with his own PTSD after military service. Travis is based out of Sacramento and has joined our Healing Initiative as a part-time facilitator to start with the intention of moving into a full-time role on our team.
As we begin this Healing Initiative in Paradise, it is critical that we build our capacity to sustain our program for a long time to come. Healing happens over time. It takes commitment, compassion and resources.
Our Mindful Littles crew in Paradise needs your support today. Paradise Ridge needs your support. Please join our efforts and donate to our Campaign for Peace today. Your support will help bring peace to so many in need of healing.