Awaken Pittsburgh working to help teachers, first responders

PITTSBURGH — Teachers and first responders are learning how to be mindful thanks to a group in Pittsburgh. The hope is they can help more people with their knowledge.

Channel 11 recently sat in on a meditation workshop where the theme was how to increase joy in your life through practice.

“Waking up in the morning and thinking of three things I’m grateful for,” said Dr. Stephanie Romero, Executive Director of Awaken Pittsburgh.

That’s one simple thing Dr. Stephanie Romero says can bring us all closer to mindfulness, which is the goal of her non-profit.

“Paying attention to what’s going on internally and externally, but without that judgement,” said Dr. Romero. “Maybe bringing some curiosity to the experiences.”

Beyond the meditation workshops, Awaken Pittsburgh works with groups like teachers. Dr. Romero used to be one herself, and she saw a need for mindfulness training for Pittsburgh-area teachers that she could fill.

“We can help support students and teachers to really regulate their emotions so that teachers can be calmer in the face of behavior that’s really challenging,” said Dr. Romero.

“In the Clairton City School District, we have a lot of students who experience trauma, and also educators who experience a lot of trauma,” said Maureen Shaw, Clairton City School District Guidance Counselor.

Because of that, Shaw says mental health is a top priority of her district.

“The piece that was missing was a prevention piece where all students and staff could receive programming to help them with emotional regulation,” said Shaw.

So she enlisted Awaken Pittsburgh a year ago to train her teachers mindfulness, so they could train the kids, who could in turn teach their parents and so on.

Awaken Pittsburgh also works with first responders.

“These folks are showing up to help us at our worst moments, and I think that supporting them and working with those emotions, giving them a different toolset, can help them show up on the job and off the job to be their best person,” said Dr. Romero.

She says we all can learn to be compassionate: connect with people’s humanity and find out what makes them happy and what makes them sad.

“So if we can generate that compassion then maybe the next time, if that person is someone directly in your life and you interact with them, you could bring some kindness to that interaction,” said Dr. Romero.

To find out more about Awaken Pittsburgh, go to this link: https://awakenpittsburgh.org/

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