Mission2Move (M2M) is a chronic stress prevention program that uses movement and mindfulness to improve academic performance and the social-emotional well-being of children.
The evidence-based program currently serves 1800 preschool students in 32 Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS).
WeTHRIVE! school districts were introduced to M2M last year. St. Bernard/Elmwood Place Schools tried out M2M’s free pilot program last fall and signed on for the full program in January 2020. “The kids were loving the program and the teachers were loving the program,” said Sarah Habib, founder of M2M. Unfortunately, COVID-19 put everything on hold.
How does it work?
M2M’s approach has three components: neural-based re-education, cardiovascular activity, and mindfulness. In the process, M2M works with educators to help them teach kids how to move and be mindful.
1. Neural learning
The neural-based re-education is “all around rewiring the brain,” explained M2M founder Sarah Habib, pictured below with CPS students.
The human body was designed to move. “As we have become more sedentary, our body and our brain pay the price for that lack of movement … So we teach kids how to move their body in an efficient and correct way.”
This may sound complicated, but it actually involves simple movements like ankle tilts, knee circles, and hand waves. (See each move here.)
Cardiovascular activity increases the heart rate. “This takes many shapes,” Sarah said. “We use all sorts of activities – games, dances, obstacle courses, you name it.”
“We believe that all children have the power to control the way they feel, specifically through their breath,” Sarah said. “And so we teach our youngest learners at the age of three something called hand breathing. It’s like a really basic form of meditation and mindfulness. It shows them that if you can take ten breaths, you are going to feel different …”
Pandemic changes things
M2M went virtual when the pandemic hit. The organization also started offering sessions live on their Facebook page three days a week.
This school year, M2M will continue working virtually with all CPS preschool classes. Teachers will also have access to 120 new 10-minute videos M2M created over the summer.
M2M & WeTHRIVE!
Plans to run the program in other schools, including the WeTHRIVE! districts of Three Rivers, North College Hill, Reading, and St. Bernard/Elmwood Place, have been put on hold. “We were supposed to be in so many other school districts,” Sarah said. “And everyone has said they don’t have the bandwidth to handle something like this now.”
She adds, “I think just trying to make sure that kids are fed and they’re receiving some form of education is everyone’s top priority, which I understand. My hope is that once school gets going, and things settle down a bit and people find themselves in a rhythm, then we can have these conversations again.”
We hope WeTHRIVE! schools can find a way to bring M2M to their students this year. Now more than ever, kids need the resilience-building and social-emotional learning the program provides.