Franklin learns to breathe

Franklin kids learning mindfulness techniques with Kat Tucker and Bodhi Whitaker, founders of Just Breathe.

Franklin Public School staff and students had a visit from mindfulness program Just Breathe on Tuesday, with kids and adults learning different strategies to help them self-regulate.

Just Breathe was founded by Kat Tucker, 26, and Bodhi Whitaker, 27, two young entrepreneurs who started up the program 18 months ago after a successful crowdfunding campaign.

They say their lifestyle can be tough, but the rewards are more than worth it.

“We created this project just over 18 months ago, because this is something we wish we learned when we were in school,” said Kat.

“We learn a lot of stuff in school, but not necessarily something to help us with everyday life challenges.

“We’re living in a campervan right now! We’re travelling in a campervan to go to all these little schools.

“Our golden rule is that we do not approach any schools, we never cold calls schools saying ‘we’re trying to sell our program!’ It’s actually schools, parents, and teachers that register their own schools and make it happen. So there’s definitely been this whole community movement to make it possible, it hasn’t just been us.

“It’s been incredible. Massive! This is our 90th school today. It’s been quite revolutionary. Seeing schools taking this on board and prioritising health and wellbeing as a foundation is really new.”

Franklin has been taking a mindful approach to learning of late, and Principal Carmel Stuckey said the Just Breathe workshops have two purposes: to teach the kids mindfulness strategies, and to make sure the teachers know what they’re talking about as they try and integrate the practice into their classrooms.

As well as Tuesday’s workshop, Franklin is instituting brief meditation sessions after high-energy activities, and using the techniques to help explosive kids control their reactions.

“It gets them to refocus on what they’re doing, and rather than getting to a level of frustration, just allowing them to breathe and relax their bodies, calm their heart rate down, so that it’s clearer for them to think and reason and engage with their work,” Ms Stuckey explained.

“In terms of staff, well, we’re all so busy! We can get overwhelmed, and I think there are times when it’s good to take a deep breath, and have a look and put things in priority. If you see people who are a bit stressed it’s about trying to be in tune with what they’re feeling and support them rather than letting these things build up.”

What is mindfulness?

• Mindfulness is training yourself to be aware of your thoughts and emotions as they happen, so that eventually you can learn to control them.

• Most mindfulness practices use the breath as an anchor to keep your focus as you practice.

• The end goal is to learn to manage your thoughts and emotions, to encourage positive emotions like gratitude, contentment and acceptance, to be able to let things go that you can’t control, and to be able to live more constructively in the present rather than worrying about the past or the future.

• It began as a Buddhist practice, but now many mindfulness practices are secular.