Prevention Research Center receives $1.4 million mindfulness research grant

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Teaching adolescents mindfulness practices that may strengthen their attention, executive function and emotion regulation skills, and in turn improve their academic and social functioning is the focus of a new grant received by the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State. Mark Greenberg, Edna Peterson Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research and professor of human development and psychology, is the principal investigator.

The three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Institute on Education Sciences will enable the integration of mindfulness practices and teachings into the regular high school health curriculum by completing the development of the Learning to BREATHE (L2B) program, a curriculum developed by Trish Broderick, a member of the research faculty at the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. L2B is intended to facilitate the development of attention and emotion regulation skills within the context of public high school health classes. In addition, a training program for teachers and school specialists to deliver the program will be developed along with materials to support the program’s implementation in Pennsylvania.

Eleventh-grade students as well as health class teachers and school counselors from two Central Dauphin School District high schools will be partners in this study.

The Learning to BREATHE (L2B) program tailors mindful awareness practices to the developmental needs of adolescents. Program goals include helping students understand their thoughts and feelings, learning mindfulness tools for managing distressing or painful emotions, and providing opportunities to practice these skills in a group setting. Six themes are built around the BREATHE acronym: (B for Body) body awareness; (R for Reflections) understanding and working with thoughts; (E for Emotions) understanding and working with feelings; (A for Attention) integrating awareness of thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations; (T for “Take it as it is”) reducing harmful self-judgments; and (H for Healthy Habits of Mind) cultivating positive emotions and integrating mindfulness into daily life. The overall goal of the program is to cultivate emotional balance and inner empowerment (E) through the practice of mindfulness.

Jennifer Frank, assistant professor of education and research associate in the Prevention Research Center, is the co-principal investigator. Deborah Schussler, associate professor of education and faculty affiliate, and Broderick, are investigators on this project.

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Last Updated July 09, 2014