If you answered “serene and silent meditation”, it can almost be guaranteed that you work at Gold Creek School in Canberra.
The school recently implemented a meditation and yoga program, the result of a unique, Shark Tank-style social entrepreneurship program.
Science teacher and program coordinator Daniel White says that the students came up with a few different concepts to pitch to the ‘sharks’, all aimed at reducing stress levels.
“It’s very much kids-driven, they went out and investigated the school and identified what they found were ‘pain points’ or bottlenecks...” White says.
“No-one wants to be unhealthy, everyone wants to be happy and healthy and mentally stable and all those things, but there are things that must be stopping you and so how do we hit those? What are the pain points? What’s stopping the reality that people want from coming about?
“And so in our case the kids identified that it was actually stress.
“There’s a feeling of negativity, the kids are under a lot of [pressure], both internal within the school and external to the school, just feeling overwhelmed.
“And that’s almost part and parcel of teenagers to be honest.”
The stakes of the program were very real, with as much as $3000 up for grabs to help implement the successful pitch.
A key point of emphasis was that students needed to demonstrate exactly how their programs could be implemented and prove that they would have real value.
“Because we’re a low SES school, we try and have many things that say ‘your education has value, and immediate value’,” White says.
“So getting the kids to understand [that] you can use what you learn here to create a business, to develop something so you’re not just living paycheque to pay-cheque, you’re not just getting by, you can actually make changes.”
It’s still early days, but the meditation program already looks promising.
“You can notice a difference.
“I mean, I knew the research said that meditation does help, but I did not expect [this much improvement],” White says.
“This is just five minutes of calming down before class and listening to breathing exercises and you just go ‘wow, this is amazing’.
“Even kids who would say ‘oh I’m not doing this’, they calm down because everybody is.
“It’s just five minutes man, five minutes of you being quiet, it works.
“And yeah, the kids are really excited about the idea, we’ve got them lining up to jump on board with it, so it’s surprising.
“It turns out that the program was very receptive about what the kids were into, it worked really, really well.”