He sat with over 200 students on the steps of Borough Hall in a group meditation session. It took place on September 12, which is National Mindfulness Day.
For over two hours, students from schools like Vista Academy, P.S. 69, and P.S. 399 engaged in yoga and mindfulness practices.
They were encouraged to use these skills of concentration and apply them during tests or in stressful situations.
These event was part of Adams’ Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program (YMTP2). The program will establish yoga and similar practices in New York City classrooms.
Currently there are 30 participants completing yoga teacher training. The pilot project will lead to a summer 2020 effort to begin training New York City school teachers and administrators as certified yoga and mindfulness instructors.
YMTP2 is a collaboration with the Borough President’s office and the Department of Education. It was announced this past April, and it was made possible by a $111,000 grant by Adams’ office.
“Young people have taken a deep breath and blow the globe in the direction that they want it to go to,” Adams boasted.
Adams, a former police officer of 22 years, discussed post-traumatic stress disorder for cops and kids. Adams admitted he needed to see someone for help after serving.
For students, Adams noted the traumatic situations that some face, such as abusive households.
“You’re setting your body right when you tackle these situations head-on with self-management tools, Adams said.
Mauri De Govia, executive director of Brooklyn South Field Support Center, expressed her support of YMTP2 while admitting that there are still additional efforts that can be done to improve students’ mental health.
Ranking atop the list is restorative justice. Restorative justice takes account of the discrepancy among the suspension rates of students of various races. Students of color tend to be suspended at higher rates than non-students of color.
De Govia said that suspension is not an effective way to deal with a misbehaving student. When a student is suspended, their subsequent isolation tends to exacerbate their behaviors.
Instead, she advocated that there be a greater environment of community within schools so that all students feel like welcomed members.
“Children are people and people have a range of emotions,” Adams said. “We got to get better around how we look at children.”
And for some of the children in attendance, the mindfulness practices were a learning experience in of themselves.
Jacqueline Love, community coordinator at P.S. 399, says roughly 25 percent of her student body is either homeless or in alternative housing options.
She noted the mental toll on students of constantly moving and adjusting to new schools. She is optimistic that this program will help the minds of these “very vulnerable people,” as well as their parents.