The Fit Abilities Yoga Program recently tried a set of Mindfulness Cards geared for kids ages 5-12. The Peacemaker Cards were created by Suzanne Tucker, founder of Generation Mindful. Each card has an age appropriate mantra on it that can be used to help embed a yogic philosophy to any lesson plan or activity such as “I am Kind, “I am thankful,” or “My Thoughts Matter. What am I thinking about today?”
So far we have used the Peacemaker cards to help the students in the Ferguson program open up before our one-on-one in school yoga sessions that we do before starting any Braille or academic activities. These mantras helped many of our Fit Abilities students, many of whom are using yoga as an extra support for self-regulation to address their visual disability and specific social/emotional issues that have been impacted by growing up in poverty and with a disability, to hear positive and self-affirming language about themselves for the first time. When I asked one of our fit abilities students who chose the “I am kind” card if he believed that about himself, he said “No.” I asked him if he ever thought he felt it could be true. He said “Maybe, I hope so. I think yoga and meditation helps with that, though.”
Since many of our students in Fit Abilities are learning to view themselves in a positive light for the first time in their lives, the Peacemaker Cards are definitely helping them form a language around positive self-concept. However, the only downside that we experienced is that some of the concepts, while positive for many life experiences of little yogis are not necessarily true for many of our students in our yoga program since some come from homes and environments that are not safe and the people in their families cannot be trusted. We believed the cards with the mantra “I am surrounded by love. I trust the world and let love in,” and “I am huggable, let’s hug,” were not appropriate for our students due to the pervasiveness that psychological trauma plays in a our student’s day to day existence. Those mantras just didn’t feel safe or real to their experiences.
Overall, we really like that the Peacemaker Cards are deepening the language of positive self-talk for our students. We will continue to use many of our favorite cards in our daily routine to give students more opportunities to think in these ways to increase their capacity for resilience as they face a society that is not often kind to people with disabilites and also, for many of our students, people of color.