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Health Check Kids: Children and mindfulness

Something called social and emotional learning is being embraced by some schools in Southern New England. (WJAR)

Something called social and emotional learning is being embraced by some schools in Southern New England.

It’s part of the curriculum at Charles Fortes Elementary School in Providence, where children are engaged in mindfulness exercises.

During half hour sessions, which take place two days a week, they are instructed to stay in the moment, breathe and feel.

"Feel calm and comfortable and kind of just let everything go for a few minutes,” said Shannon Smith, a school integrative specialist for the Center for Resilience in Providence. “And just notice what's happening around them."

"What they do is they give the students strategies for self-awareness, a vocabulary to express their feelings," said Tonya Costa, principal at Fortes.

Through physical and mental exercises, the instructors from the Center for Resilience teach the children skills to help them at school, as well as at home.

"It helps you learn," said Dylan Vang, a kindergartner at the school.

"I think it's good for us to breathe and when we're like angry, it can calm us down," said Kendrick Avila, a first grader.

"A lot of times, you'll hear teachers say, 'Use your breathing techniques. Are you starting to feel different?' Identify those feelings using those kinds of vocabulary words and then identify a strategy," said Costa.

Berlena Horace, a kindergartner, said it helps her,

"By being nice and kind and watching, learning," she said.

Other children shared similar sentiments.

“It makes me feel better,” said Aumi Martinez, a kindergartner.

This mindfulness program at Fortes is funded in part, by grant money, according to Costa.

The Center for Resilience in Providence, which has a motto that focuses on "empowering people to empower themselves," works with many schools and teachers and members of the community.

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