“I think that the teens at Concord High, many of whom have experienced tremendous challenges, stress, and obstacles in life, didn’t believe as a group that change for them was really possible. But what our program strove to do, using converging media – film, scientific readings, mind/body experiences of mindfulness – was to convince these young adults that they really could change their brains, change counterproductive habits of thinking, and find the tools to focus more and let negative feelings go. “
Tracy Dennis, Ph.D, Hunter College, lead scientist
The Science — We used to think that after a certain age the brain doesn’t change. That you can’t teach an old dog a new trick.
Due to advancements in technology, we now know that isn’t true. There’s something called “neuroplasticity.” You can change the brain’s neural pathways and synapses through repeated new experiences. Each of us has the potential to create new positive habits and jettison destructive old habits.
Phase Two — Return to Concord to conduct a year-long feasibility study to create a replicable curriculum that can be expanded into more at-risk high schools and the juvenile justice system. Like the pilot program, phase two will use the innovative combination of film and a science curriculum on neural plasticity as a way to deepen the ability of youth to integrate mindfulness as a tool for positive change into their day-to-day lives.
“At Staten Island’s Concord High School, the fourth ‘R’ is relaxation! Considering the library at Concord High School was jam-packed with dozens of students, it was oddly quiet. Each person was in a mode of contemplation… They took deep breaths as they rested, hands on their laps, eyes closed. In fact, every day for the past 10 weeks, students at this alternative high school did something their peers rarely get a chance to do — relax.”
Amy Padnani , reporter, Staten Island Advance