Calmer Choice teaches secular mindfulness-based social emotional education in Cape Cod schools, businesses, and communities. We work in close partnership with administrators and educators to provide full-school programs that build a culture of mindfulness and kindness across entire schools. These partnerships are growing and extend well beyond the schools into the community at large.
Calmer Choice is a Massachusetts Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Organization, Tax ID #27-2836997. We rely on support from schools, community organizations, donors, grants, sponsors and other fundraising efforts.
Calmer Choice is a universal prevention program committed to teaching people how to effectively and safely manage stress and resolve conflict so that they live happy, healthy and successful lives. Our goal is to provide skills that will diminish the risk of violence, substance abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors. Calmer Choice is designed to engage each individual in a mindful experience, stimulate their curiosity around the curriculum, and guide them in discovering how it relates to their lives. Through discussions and cooperative activities, participants learn to integrate the Calmer Choice skills into their lives.
Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose in the present moment with kindness and curiosity. We have always been told to “pay attention”, but where and when have we ever been taught how to pay attention? Mindfulness teaches us how to bring our full, undivided attention to the present moment when we want to, without the burden of extraneous narrative, feelings, and thoughts.The good news is that mindfulness can be learned!
Greater than 50% (and up to 95%) of our time is spent in autopilot; research indicates when we are on autopilot we are more reactive and less happy. Mindfulness teaches us how to recognize when we are on autopilot, and to then bring our attention back to what is happening. Mindfulness has become an important intervention to manage the impact of stress, and research shows positive effects for students and adults in building cognitive and emotional resilience, improving self-regulation and even happiness. and overall sense of well-being.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandates a Health Curriculum Framework (inclusive of social and emotional health) at varying grade levels. Alongside this, the state has set Social Emotional Learning as one of the top 5 educational priorities, using CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social And Emotional Learning). The CASEL program defines Social Emotional Learning competencies as self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. These competencies align with the Calmer Choice curriculum and aligns with outcomes reported by Calmer Choice participants.
Also, universal prevention programs (which Calmer Calmer Choice is) are seen as well placed in schools as schools are largest de facto providers of mental health services for children in our country (1) evolving toward not just teaching mindful awareness and mindfulness skills, but teaching people how to thrive in this world by learning how to be resilient, compassionate, and find reward in challenges. We are systematically teaching people enduring skills they will be able to reference and employ throughout their lives.
 M.A. Killingsworth & D.T. Gilbert,Science 12 Nov 2010:Vol. 330, Issue 6006, pp. 932 DOI: 10.1126/science.1192439
Currently, Calmer Choice delivers its innovative programming through three distinct arms:
- Calmer Choice in the Classroom: in schools directly with Calmer Choice instructors
- Calmer Choice Partner Schools: training school staff to deliver programming for themselves
- Calmer Choice in the Community: partnering with community-based organizations and businesses to deliver services across a broad population of Cape residents, from children to adults.
The program content is designed to be flexible and adaptable to meet the particular needs of each group of participants. The conceptual framework that guides Calmer Choice lesson progression is grounded in current academic and scientific knowledge and research regarding the benefits of social emotional learning coupled with that of mindful awareness training for cognitive, emotional, physical, and social well-being and health. These strategies are recognized as part of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s guiding principles for effective prevention programming. These strategies are also integral in the growing field of current leadership training.
Neuroscience research pertaining to mindfulness interventions for all populations is rapidly increasing, and generally showing a broad array of physical, cognitive, and emotional outcomes associated with greater health and a growing sense of well-being.
Nationwide, the integration of mindfulness practices into the educational curriculum is being recognized as beneficial to the learning experience. Research concludes that there is a significant improvement in student behaviors (2) as well as improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well-being. In turn, such benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life.
To evaluate our own work in this field, over the last 7 years Calmer Choice partnered with researchers from Tufts, Yale, MIT and Harvard to study the impact of its program with over 2,000 students. In comparison to matched control groups, Calmer Choice participants significantly decrease anxiety, improve emotional regulation, and executive function—and improvements are maintained over the school year. (See What We Do for additional details regarding specific Calmer Choice program research outcomes).
 Foy, Perrin, & American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Mental Health, 2010)
Calmer Choice is a secular organization and a secular program . Calmer Choice teaches about paying attention in a particular way (to increase meta-cognitive awareness) and about how the brain and nervous system work (to increase knowledge about emotional regulation). Calmer Choice does expressly encourage cultivating kindness, happiness, appreciation, gratitude, perspective, optimism and compassion. Developing these types of skills are advocated as protective factors for youth, potentially increasing resilience, reducing risk factors and improving health and wellness (American Psychological Association, n.d.).
The Calmer Choice program and its leadership are perceived on a national level as leaders and experts and thought leaders in secular mindfulness education in public school settings.
The Calmer Choice Instructor Training consists of a 40-hour classroom training which includes didactic, experiential exercises and engaged activities plus a 28-hour observation/student teaching in the classroom with mentoring and coaching. The program is designed to provide the background and rationale behind the lessons in Calmer Choice, with overview of current research and literature. Participants have the opportunity to explore the conceptual framework of the lessons through personal experience and reflective writing. Each participant is matched with an experienced instructor as mentor/coach to observe in the classroom as well as complete a student teaching experience.
Calmer Choice generally runs an instructor training once a year. There is an application and interview process. For more information please contact Katie Medlar, Director of School Based Programming, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Currently we serve the Cape Cod Community. Stay tuned for increasing online presence and web based trainings as well as for upcoming workshops and retreats for educators and adults.
Calmer choice was built and thrives on the involvement of individuals like YOU! You can donate, volunteer or become a sponsor. Learn more on the Support Us page.