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Creating a culture
Only a human values
oriented approach in
education can impart true
intelligence. We must create
a classroom system wherein A culture of peace is possible. When
individuals know how to cultivate inner
a child learns to increase
peace amidst conflict, they begin to trans-
awareness and not just
form the world around them. Schools are
assimilate information. We central to communities and their mission
need to integrate human is to educate the next generation. Often,
values of compassion, caring education focuses exclusively on valuable
and sharing in our education academic knowledge and skills.
system to lay the foundation What happens when we broaden the scope
for long-term prosperity of of that education to fully embrace other
the society as a whole. A skills and self-knowledge? What kind of
complete education is one citizens emerge from schools and commu-
which empowers individuals nities that prioritize equipping students to
be well balanced, healthy, happy, fulfilled,
to play the role of a global
connected and ready to contribute to soci-
citizen in making the local ety? Often educational systems struggle to
community stronger and the achieve these priorities, as they are uncer-
world a safer and happier tain or unprepared in how to realize them.
place to live. What happens when schools become
partners in building peace? Is it possible to
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar teach peace?

of peace There is a CORE OF PEACE hiding in each
individual, co-existing with the drama of life.
Just as every hurricane has at its core a peaceful center, at the core of every indi-
vidual is a peaceful I. The movement of life swirling around the central core often
appears stressful, confusing, conflicted or destructive. We get caught up in the
drama of life in all its intensity, unaware of the peaceful core co-existing within. The
peaceful self is quietly hidden. We often get stuck in the chaos of changing events
and emotions which comprise the movie of life, though the calm center remains
untouched and at peace.

The Secret of the BREATH

Breath, the essential process which keeps us alive, has the ability to move us
through the hurricane of the mind and bring us back to the peaceful stillness

When young people are given clear strategies and specific tools of breath to manage
emotions, such as anger, fear, anxiety, they gain the ability to deal with stressful
situations in a centered, positive way. Normally, breath is taken for granted, but it
holds secrets to locating the peaceful center within each of us.

Bill Herman
A peaceful mind is not simply International Director,
an antidote to violence - it is the YES! for Schools Program
foundation of effective education. International Association
for Human Values

What do EDUCATION and
peace have in common?

They are both affected by Stress
Stress Inhibits Learning:
The quality of learning is reduced
by a mind filled with stress and
negative emotions.
A Prerequisite to Violence:
The intensity of conflict is increased

Stress Impacts
by the intensity of irritability, anger
and stress in the mind.
Takes a Toll on Relationships:
Family, colleagues, friends
Negatively Affects Health:
Physical, mental and emotional
Every Aspect of Life

Science of BREATH
Sympathetic vs. Parasympathetic The practice of breathing techniques results in a
Nervous System greater sense of well being, and in stressful mo-
ments, breathing techniques allow us to be more
The sympathetic nervous system is often referred centered in our response.
to as our fight-or-flight system - it gets us out of
dangerous situations by pumping in adrenaline and The Vagus Nerve &
blocking out distractions, so we run away from the The Upward Spiral
bear in the woods. Theres a value to this. We stay
alive! Weve evolved, but we still respond the same Barbara Frederickson, a researcher at UNC Chapel
way. Cortisol - the stress hormone - floods our sys- Hill, studied vagal tone, or the strength of the vagus
tem at the simplest trigger. The sympathetic nervous nerve. She discovered an interesting phenomenon,
system is overused, so we use it as a habitual reflex. which she named the Upward Spiral. She found
that people who have higher vagal tone tend to be
The parasympathetic nervous system is the more better at self-regulation. As vagal tone increases,
highly-evolved system responsible for feelings so does their positive affect (feeling of well-being).
of calm, well-being, clear thinking and a broader As positive emotions increase, so do feelings of

The Upward Spiral

sense of perspective. The use of certain breath tech- social connectedness. And as social connectedness
niques strengthen the parasympathetic nervous increases, so does vagal tone. When we practice
system, with the vagus nerve at its core. When this breathing techniques that increase vagal tone, we
happens, the brain is retrained to approach life trigger a self-perpetuating upward spiral of well
situations with calm, clarity, increased awareness, being. The breathing techniques taught in YES!
and it responds, rather than reacts. support a sustained spiral of growth, health, and

What is YES!?
YES! for Schools provides schools with a modality of restor-
ative practices through customized programs for youth and
adults. Our unique whole-body approach to stress and social
emotional learning combines transformative physiological
practices, including breathing techniques and meditation, in
concert with cognitive tools and awareness.

This approach supports participants inner states and the

overall school climate, attending to the source of many
Our programs for educators alleviate teachers stress, enrich dia-
chronic school concerns, including behavioral issues, absen-
logue and connection between colleagues, and boosts team morale,
teeism and truancy. Simultaneously, it uplifts qualities such
supporting a healthy learning environment.
as responsibility, respect, commitment, compassion, service,
and cooperation. One High School Teacher in Milwaukee Wisconsin, recently
brought YES! to her 5 classes for 10 weeks. Her comment was:

School teachers and administration would benefit from learning about

the YES! program because it is the foundation for academic achievement.
When we are better able to understand our students and their needs, we are
better able to serve them.

When we teach from an area of understanding, we teach the whole

child. This practice helps to create productive individuals, family
members and members of society.

OPTIONS Other Than Violence
I used to be ready to fight, but since youve Before YES! came to our school, I had mental
taught me this breathing technique, it is much issues. Getting in everybodys business and all
easier to relax. Just brush it off my shoulders, that. Now that I have the power breath, it really
just look at em and laugh, walk away. helped me calm down. The techniques really

Before Miss Emily came I used to be all up in The techniques that the YES! program has shared
peoples business, angry, catchin a attitude, hard with us are like a shield to cover us. To protect us
headed and everything. When she came, I just from situations where someone is trying to get at
calmed it down, I mind my business, give peo- us and make us angry.
ple respect, respect my elders, stay out o fights,
give people the cold shoulder and everything. It helps you get more mature. With grownups its
not mature for them to fight cause theyre older,
but this is helping us get more mature so we dont
Now, I can choose two different paths a pos- fight and all that other stuff.
itive path or negative path. The path I chose
before was, I dont care, whatever, it doesnt Ive learned to be more calm and use breathing
matter to me. Now I know I can choose to techniques as a helpful source, and also to think
have an adventure. It may be a negative situa- of options other than violence.
tion, But you can still treat it in a positive way.

Government 46 Schools, 3078 Students
Ecatapec, Metepec, Nezahualcoyotl

EMBRACING In the summer of 2015 a plan was formed to bring YES! to 46

schools in the cities of Ecatapec, Metepec, Nezahualcoyotl. A total

of 3078 youth benefited in the months of October and November
with followups for those students continuing.

YES! in the State of Mexico:

One school director, Israel Cerrillo, said
Educacion por la PAZ regarding the YES! program: To have a
In the summer of 2013 Mauricio Franco Posadas came to the program that helps them control their emo-
USA to be trained as a YES! for Schools teacher. He went back tions, to see life from a different perspec-
to Mexico and he and his wife Kristhian made connections to tive. They will begin to promote this; they
bring YES! to youth in their home city of Chalco which has a high will begin to be promoters for peace.
rate of poverty and violence. In January of 2014 we met with the
Director of Crime Prevention of the State of Mexico where Chalco
is located. They were interested in seeing if YES! would work as an One teacher, Elizabeth Pulido, said: Were em-
alternative to violence. YES! was brought to 2500 young people in bracing it a lot. Because this child isnt by himself,
a community program called Chalco for Peace. were also including his family, and also the whole
The program was very effective and the Minister of Education of context of the child. This is bringing very good
the State of Mexico asked us to create a culture of peace through results. I think this should be done massively, so
the schools in 3 of the largest cities of the state. we have even larger results!

One Mother, Gabriella, said
regarding her teenage son:
He was always stressed. Before he would
come back from school yelling, Shut up
because Im already irritated, Im already
tired! And those days of the YES! Program
he would get home super relaxed, Oh,
little brother how are you and how did it go
at school? Do you want me to help you with your homework? And
his father and I were like Is that you?

One Student, Paola Torres said

regarding her experience with YES!:
There have been many changes in me. For
example, how I behave with teachers, with
my companions, with my family and with
my friends. Im not the same person I used
to be anymore.

For the spring of 2016, the State of Mexico Minister of Education

has insisted on organizing a Teacher Training program for 200
of their own school counselors, psychologists, social workers
to become YES! teachers. The intent is to bring YES! to 50,000
students, parents and teachers in the next year.

When People Live In PEACE And
HARMONY With Themselves its Not
Possible To Be Violent With Others
Since I met the The YES! program is very useful in
IAHV Staff I schools because it teaches kids that
felt a spark of through the breath anyone can reach
unity with them a peaceful state of mind, peace in the
and our spirits soul and how to maintain internal
recognized each balance. Kids confirm that their lives
other. From that change and they experience authentic
moment I knew happiness. This program allows us to
they were in go within and see how important each
harmony with of us are. The experience of internal
the three pillars of education in the tranquility reduces the impulse for
State of Mexico: students, teachers and external violence and kids understand
parents. the importance of being non-violent
with people around us. This is very
After I did the adult version of the good for the school environment. It
course I made the techniques a part is a subtle energy that spreads in the
of my daily life. Naturally I wanted school, and when students are in that
to share it with others because of the energy, their thoughts and actions
magical transformation in myself. change. In the quality of this harmoni-
ous environment, Education for Peace,
This kind of learning is innovative. happens spontaneously.
The breath is a tool to live in harmony
with yourself and others around you. Viviana Jimenez, Director of
It helps awaken the consciousness in the Department of Harmonious
each of us and allows one to live life in School Co-existence, Ministry of
a different way.
Education, State of Mexico

From Teaching a Course To
Building YES! Model Schools

Weve learned in the United States, Mexico and other countries

that its possible to bring YES! courses to many schools with
positive effects on students. To achieve sustainable results of
improved academic performance, reduced impulsivity in student
behavior, reduced student suspensions and perceived stress, the
most effective way is to build YES! into every layer of the culture
of the school.

Involving teachers, administrators and support staff is essential to

transforming school culture in a positive way. Training teachers
from their own schools to lead daily breathing in every class, rein-
force YES! vocabulary for emotional regulation and delivering the
YES! course transforms school culture in the long term.

Freeport School District
CREATES YES! Model School
The YES! Program began implementation in the Freeport School The complete YES! Program is taught each year to the entire 7th
District in New York in 2010, at the request of their new district grade - about 500 students. They learn the breathing in short semi-
Superintendent, Dr. Kuncham. The Superintendent saw YES! as nars at the start of school, and then receive the full YES! curriculum
a way to bring greater peace into students lives and improve the in health class. Refreshers for the 8th grade students are presented
quality of education. After teaching YES! to high school students in science classes and breathing follow-up continues all year.
in PE classes and shorter programs for every student in the dis-
trict, YES! has focused its attention on one school. In addition to students, YES! focuses on the well being of teachers,
administration and support staff well being. Engaging personal expe-
rience of breathing and meditation allows all adults at the school the
Dodd Middle school: opportunity to embody the positive human values and breathing tech-
A YES! model school niques of YES! and set an example of managing stress in healthy ways.
The YES! Program at Dodd Middle School is dynamic and com- They take an introductory YES! Educators course and are offered
prehensive program addressing the needs of all members of the optional SKY course, Art of Meditation course, Art of Silence
school community, from students to security guards. retreats and YES! Teacher Training for those who are interested.
After a recent course, one teacher said, ...I think whats so im-
Before the beginning of the school year, students and parents attend
portant is to have these continual trainings. Its just critical. Im
a YES! orientation. They learn breathing techniques and their scien-
so grateful that school allows us to do this. It just makes me more
tific significance, emotional regulation exercises and human values
committed (as a teacher) as a life long commitment.
processes on respect, responsibility, teamwork and growth mindset.

The school environment that I was in before
was very stressful... Its so nice to have the
meditation and all this to relax and change After the 2014-15 school year,
the environment. Its a 180 degree turn, 89% of students surveyed
completely changing the way I am at home, at expressed feeling significantly
work and in every aspect of my life. Its such a calmer, more relaxed, and
better experience and I am looking forward to better able to manage their
continuing the meditation. emotions.
Daily breathing for 8 minutes in each home-
room starts every school day in a peaceful,
reflective way. A YES! teacher leads a guided Over the 2014-2015 school
meditation over the PA system giving every- year, students participating
one in the school the opportunity to calm, in YES! had statistically
de-stress the mind and feel rejuvenated. The significantly higher average
school has seen a 44% reduction in sus- GPAs in Math, Social Studies,
pensions which administrators attribute to and English Language Arts.
YES!. Dodd administrators are considering
adding a second set of daily breathing.
Over the course of the two
Consistent one-on-one mentorship and years that Yes! has been
individual YES! counseling/breathwork active at Dodd, there has
sessions for individual students has been
been a 64% decrease in
implemented. These one-on-one meetings
behavioral infractions.
with YES! teachers address student stress,
behavior and emotional stability.

A Place of Peace
My greatest reward as a principal has been watching my own transformation as well as the
transformation of countless students, staff and parents through the use of targeted breathing
practices. Engaging in this daily practice has enabled me to maintain perspective and balance
throughout the day. I know as I juggle various tasks and tackle the inevitable, unpredictable
nature of leading a middle school, I always have the use of this personal and practical tool to
bring me back to center. I have become more aware of the impact of my decisions on others
and have grown more compassionate towards students, staff and colleagues alike.

My decisions are made from a place of peace, clarity, and intentionality.

The breath is the direct pathway to my internal peace. When I am peaceful,
everyone I encounter feels that peace.

This represents a paradigm shift in our thinking when we consider how to cul-
tivate a culture of peace in our schools. Peace is often discussed as a separate
entity that occupies our schools rather than a vital characteristic of its occu-
pants. Peace is not an external state of affairs but the internal condition of each
student, teacher, administrator and parent. This awareness will allow peace to
reign and reverberate from the self to the family, to the school, the commu-
nity, the nation, and world. I have seen first hand the power of this breath-
ing practice in myself, my students, and in my staff and know it will bring
peace, joy, and creativity to Americas students!

Johane Ligonde, Principal, Dodd Middle School, Ms. Ligonde testifies before
Freeport Schools, Freeport New York members of U.S. Congress

Bridging the GAP
Where does YES! for Schools fit in the landscape of
social emotional learning and mindfulness education?
Schools around the world are turning to Social Emotional Learning This YES! combination of SEL and physiological practice restores
programs and Mindfulness practices to support education. In the individuals and school environments from the inside out. Our
USA, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs incorporate one or model of change begins with transformation at the individual level,
more of five competencies - self-management, self-awareness, social then supports full classrooms and schools for sustained school
awareness, relationship skills, and responsible-decision making. climate shift.
These programs focus on cognitive understanding of each skill.

Many mindfulness programs focus on self-awareness. They use

mindful practices to increase self-awareness deeper than tradi-
tional SEL cognitive approach. Scientific and anecdotal evidence
support the effectiveness of these neural-restorative tools.
The premise is that increased self-awareness is key to personal

What makes YES! for Schools unique is the merger of cogni-

tive Social Emotional Learning with physiological restorative
practices. YES! combines SEL and mindfulness, but the breath-
work we offer, which has its own body of supporting evidence, is
unique. These techniques and processes are reinforced through age
specific workshop, daily breathing and one on one mentoring.

Impact and Research
YES! has reached tens of thousands of children
In the last 7 years in the United States the International Association for Human Values has done much to build the YES! for Schools program into
schools. Since 2008, over 70,000 students and teachers have experienced the YES! for Schools program in 147 schools in 22 states of the USA.

For 2 years, YES! taught to YES! reduces aggressive tendencies

the whole freshmen class William C. Overfelt High School in San Jose, CA reported that
Bayview High School, Milwaukee, WI over a two-year period of offering YES! for Schools:

56% Increase in Growth Mindset 38% Reduction in violent incidents
53% Decrease in Perceived Stress 28% Reduction in disruptive behavior
47% Decrease in Aggression and Fighting 45% Reduction in drug and alcohol use
31% Decrease in Bullying Behavior 45% Reduction in suspension hours
43% Decrease in Anger
58% Increase in Caring/Cooperative Behavior

YES! for Schools uses a range of qualitative and quantitative assessment tools, including validated pre and post self-reporting student
surveys measuring psychological indicators such as growth mindset, perceived stress, aggressive tendencies, anger, caring behavior,
impulsivity, etc. In addition to 3rd party observation, interviews with teachers, administrators and parents, we work with the schools to
gather school based data measuring academic, behavioral and other relevant metrics. A few examples are shown above.

Effects of the Youth Empowerment classes. Students in a control group attended their usual
curriculum and were tested in parallel. Items from the Barratt
Seminar on impulsive behavior in Impulsiveness Scale (framed to reflect recent behavior) were used
adolescents to assess the students! behavior before and after they underwent
Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health the program.
April, 2013
Results and Conclusions: Compared with the control
Dara G. Ghahremani, Ph.D., Eugene Y. Oh, B.S., Andrew C. Dean, group, YES! participants reported less impulsive behavior after
Ph.D., Kristina Mouzakis, B.A., Kristen D. Wilson, R.N., B.S.N., the program. The results suggest that YES! can promote mental
and Edythe D. London, Ph.D. health in adolescents, potentially protecting them from harmful
Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences Semel coping behaviors.
Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior University of
California, Los Angeles. Implications and Contribution: The study indicates
that adolescents undergoing the YES! program show reduced
Purpose: As impulsivity during adolescence predicts health- impulsive behavior. Given the
risk behaviors and associated harm, interventions that attenuate link between impulsivity and
impulsivity may offer protection. We evaluated effects of the harmful coping behavior, the
Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!), a biopsychosocial work- program may be protective
shop for adolescents that teaches skills of stress management, against risk behavior
emotion-regulation, conflict-resolution, and attentional focus, on detrimental to adolescent
impulsive behavior. health.

Methods: High-school students (14-18 years old) in the

United States participated in YES! during their physical education Dara G. Ghahremani, Ph.D
YES! Around the WORLD
Each area has taken its own approach and is in its own stage of evolution
France New Zealand
Georgia Poland
Germany Serbia
Israel Slovenia
Italy South Africa
India Spain
Latvia Tunisia
Lebanon Turkey
Lithuania UAE
Macedonia UK
Mexico Uganda
Morroco Ukraine YES! is adapted to meet the needs of local education
Montenegro USA systems, communities and cultures.
Implementation Steps

1 M
 eet a YES! coordinator to better under-
stand the vision of the YES! program
Discuss time line for implementation
and steps towards YES! model school

Schedule YES! educators program for
school staff. YES! programming for
Sustainability. Teachers from the
school can be certified as YES! facil-
educators addresses self-care and creates itators through trainings, personal
ownership among the adult school practice, and co-teaching with our
leadership instructors.

YES! program for educators is essential as it addresses the need for self-care for teachers.
YES! can be customized, scaled and adapted to any setting.
International Director YOUR SCHOOL, Executive Director, USA
Director of YES! Teacher Training YOUR COUNTRY, 610-733-1101

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