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Why and How We Brought the MindUP Program to Serbia

by , 24th Nov 2016

The MindUP program has been proven to reduce instances of bullying and violence in schools, and children enrolled in the program consistently show an improved awareness of their emotions, less stress, and a more optimistic outlook on life.

Sometimes, being a kid is hard. Being an adult is hard. Sometimes, life is simply hard, no matter your age. A problem that seems too complicated to be fixed. A friend who has said something unkind. An opportunity missed. A project completed too late. A failure.

Life is full of challenge, full of frustrations and stressful exchanges. Whether you’re five or fifty, a disappointment is a disappointment, and sometimes, all too often, we approach life’s difficulties both small and large with anxiety and discouragement.

What if there was a better way? What if we could teach ourselves, beginning as children, how to handle tough circumstances with grace and acceptance? Can you imagine how the world might change? Might improve? Rather than wars waged and battle lines drawn, we believe that humanity is just as capable of meaningful discussion and compassionate actions, but we need the right tools to get there. What if, alongside a practical and theoretical scholastic education, we were also honing a child’s emotional intelligence? The outcome of such a combination could be extraordinary.

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MindUP is a program that aims to do just that: to help children acknowledge and validate their emotions and in doing so, enable them to choose appropriate, healthy behaviors over unhealthy actions, and all through a series of classes and workshops that work alongside their regular school curriculum.

The MindUP program has been proven to reduce instances of bullying and violence in schools, and children enrolled in the program consistently show an improved awareness of their emotions, less stress, and a more optimistic outlook on life.

We decided that we wanted our children to know what that felt like, to have the possession of more optimism in their hearts and minds alongside the knowledge of their letters and numbers, and so, in partnership with the Hawn Foundation, and in cooperation with the Serbian ministry of Education, the NDF decided to introduce the MindUP program to schools throughout Serbia.

And the results have been rather wonderful.

I’ve learned to overcome my fear and anxiety and use my brain to think in more positive and productive ways –Andrej P., age 5

I’m constantly talking about my amygdala, the small part of the brain responsible for our emotion – Jana S., age 6

My new best friend is my brain –Sara P., age 5

Now I can focus my attention on other things instead of spending six long hours in front of the computer – Aleksandra A., age 8

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I like the MindUP program as it offers some great strategies for calming the anxious mind. These strategies are crucial not only for our children but for adults as well, especially when you consider the stressful events people living in this country have endured for the past two decades, including wars, bombing, transition –Tanja Banjeglav, parents of a MindUP student.

The program is creative and easily applicable. My child feels more relaxed, he is better able to concentrate and gets along better with other students since the MindUP workshops started. I want to express my gratitude to Novak Djokovic for bringing this program to schools in Serbia. He keeps doing great things for our children – Vesna Petrovic, parent of a MindUP student.

In 2016 and beyond we are hoping to expand MindUP to even more schools throughout Serbia. We want even more children, as many as possible, all of them, everywhere, to confidently and compassionately navigate their way through life’s ups and downs, to meet the sometimes taxing demands of life with poise and quiet strength. Sometimes, real change starts with simply taking a deep breath and listening to the whisper rather than the roar. Listen.

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