Baltimore students given mandatory meditation over detention

Byby Maggie Rulli ABCNews logo
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

BALTIMORE -- A school in Baltimore is taking a different approach to dealing with disciplinary problems -- by replacing detention with meditation.

The chaos in the early morning is now silenced by mandatory meditation.

Along with writing, reading and math, students at Coleman Elementary are also study breathing, with mindfulness classes woven into their everyday routine.

And if a student acts up, they're not sent to the principal's office. Instead, they're sent to a mindful moment room where they're given a chance to re-center.

A student named Artavia Tubman said she thinks of happy thoughts. "Like making Baltimore a safe place for the kids because my brother got shot when he was four, he got shot when he was going to the movies by himself. So, every time I get mad I just breathe," she said.

Andy Gonzales helped launch the program in Baltimore about 15 years ago with two local brothers. "A lot of overwhelming external stimuli and trauma that these kids have to face, so for them to have tools to better self-regulate, manage themselves and their emotions and to make them healthier mentally, physically and emotionally, I think it just makes the climate of the school better for academics," he said.

And with a combination of movement exercises, breathing, and mindfulness, he says the kids behavior slowly changes. "Ninety five percent of my class who goes out for the mindful room, they come back and they will be at peace and at work," teacher Tayamisha Von Hendricks said.

The goal is that they'll not only be at peace for the rest of the day, but hopefully for the rest of their life. "Take five, take two minutes your of your day, take a minute? just stop and be," Gonzales said.

The Holistic Life Foundation says they want to expand the success they've had in Baltimore to schools across the country. And now, other programs are tapping in to mindful mediation as well by using it to help soldiers returning from war, over stressed executives, and everyday families at home.