Updated: Apr 28
It’s Mind Moves’ second anniversary! And in honour of that, I thought I would do a reflection piece on how it all started and what running this niche business has taught me.
Let’s flashback to first-year university.
I was teaching Ballet to a room full of 4-year-olds, agonizing over when the class would be over.
I never really thought I had a penchant for teaching. In my Ballet classes, it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see kids running around, pushing and shoving, with a kid crying in the corner. I was overwhelmed and so were the kids. Some teachers might call this poor class management or just an unlucky mix of kids. Either way, I never anticipated that teaching and helping kids with mindfulness practices was going to be something I would become so passionate about in the following years.
I thought to myself, in that classroom full of screeching voices and the pitter-patter of little feet running amuck –there must be a way to guide a class where all the kids are engaged, participating and joyful.
I mulled the thought over for a few weeks. At the time, I was exploring meditation and breathwork as my own self-care practice. At some point, it occurred to me, well, if I use meditation every morning to calm myself down, what’s the equivalent for kids?
And so, the deep dive into Google began.
I learned there was such a thing as mindfulness for kids and there was even yoga for kids.
The more I read, the more everything made sense and I realized that I was already using a lot of the mindfulness techniques described online in my classes out of innate curiosity (and sheer desperation to calm the class). Mindfulness is described as paying attention to the present moment and responding to the world with openness, kindness and curiosity. I thought that’s exactly what the kids I teach needed.
I was in full-time school for my Kinesiology degree at the time Mind Moves began and I was in a class called “Children’s Movement Experiences.” I talked to my TA (teacher assistant) about the struggles I was having with some of the kids and about the different mindful movement and breathing strategies I was implementing. I asked if she had any further thoughts on class management and so on. She was a huge help and resource for me in expanding my knowledge about the proven effects and studies were done showing mindfulness and yoga to be beneficial for kids' physical and socio-emotional development.
I started studying kids yoga and came up with a concept for a non-competitive specialized class that helped kids’ holistic development: creative movement, dance, music, yoga and mindfulness.
Mind Moves was born.
I started testing out parts of my program in dance classes I was already teaching and saw dramatic results in terms of children paying attention and enjoying the class. I created a curriculum, made a website, put together a proposal and started emailing community centres and schools. I offered trial classes and hustled trying to spread the word. Eventually, it worked!
What started as one Baby Butterfly class in one community centre has now expanded to over 4 different age group classes in 5 community centres and 5 different schools and pre-schools. We’ve had sold-out summer and winter camps and are now about to lead our spring camps. Kids love it, I love it and parents love seeing their children thrive.
I am so grateful to the first few community centres and schools that believed in me and my vision. I am heartfully passionate about this topic and about children’s well being– especially in early childhood (when our neural foundation framework is being laid down).
I was a really temperamental child when I was young and didn’t know where to put my energy or what to do with my emotions. I really needed this program when I was younger and so creating it and delivering it has been a huge joy in my life. I think this is why this program has reached as many kids as it has.
One of the greatest things I’ve learned about running this program is to maintain constant curiosity. Kids will always teach you something. Maintaining an open and curious mind has helped me understand that the greatest contributor to enhancing children’s socio-emotional well-being is simply listening to them. Creating the space for them to share their thoughts and feelings. Creating the space to laugh together.
Not everything in life is so serious and kids are the best embodiers of that. Being silly and playful IS meditation. Whenever you’re in your body, present with others, it’s mindfulness at its peak. I’m grateful to be taught that over and over by the kids I teach.
Starting Mind Moves as a side gig and watching it blossom into serving hundreds of children has continued to fan my entrepreneurial flame. I’ll be off pursuing an entrepreneurial fellowship in Toronto this summer and next year through Venture For Canada. Mind Moves in schools will be taking a pause but classes and camps in community centres will continue to run. My baby is growing up and I can’t wait to see how Mind Moves evolves next!
Check out more about Mind Moves on our website. https://www.mindmoves.ca