Submitted by: Lisa Hannaford, Manager, FCSS
It has become common to hear that children and youth arproblems, related to str“Degulation are a core feature of many adolescent emotional and behavioral problems, including depression, anxiety, conduct problems, deliberate self-injury, disordered eating, and substance use and abuse” (Broderick and Jennings, 2012). At Green View FCSS we believe that if children are taught how to regulate their emotions, and how their brain works, then they will be better prepared to make informed, positivsituations or stressors.
In this vein, we set out to incorporate ways of teaching emotional self-regulation. We began by incorporating the MindUp™ curriculum, as well as providing Sparks Fly Stationary Bikes, in Grades 3 and 6 classrooms within our municipality. The MindUp™ curriculum is a six week bi-weekly program and is facilitated by our Youth Coordinator. The program uses mindfulness as a tool to improve students’ ability to listen and respond to their bodies. In 2016, Green View FCSS was able to provide thirteen Sparks Fly Stationary Bikes to seven schools within the MD of Greenview and the Town of Valleyview. Students were encouraged to become increasingly aware of the physical and emotional messages their bodies were sending their brain. They were also taught how to deal with these messages.
The Sparks Fly bicycles provide a tactile tool that allows students to move their bodies when they identify a need or experience restlessness. Teachers have noted that the bikes have decreased anxiety in some students, allowed others to refocus when distracted, and improved self-regulation in their classrooms. One teacher commented, “I had a student who was always crying during a subject that she disliked. Other interventions were providing little success until we got the bike”. The children are also appreciative of both the ability to have a bike, and to learn the MindUp™ curriculum.
Students have thanked the Youth Coordinator for taking the time to teach them about their brain and how to use their “wise leader” (prefrontal-cortex) to make good choices. Another Grade 3 teacher had a student who was having trouble sitting still and was struggling with impulsivity. After incorporating the bike into the classroom the teacher shared that the student “was able to relax, redirect, and focus”. With continued success, our intention is to carry on with the MindUp™ programming and to increase the number of bikes in our schools annually.