Shubham Patel is teaching his peers about how taking a few minutes for mindfulness can support their mental health. The Grade 12 student at Preston High School (PHS) in Cambridge is helping bring mindfulness exercises to students across the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB).

Teachers taking part in Shubham’s Mindful Mornings program are given a library of resources, including recommended video exercises, and guidance for how to use them with students.

The program began as part of Shubham’s involvement in the Peace Innovators Scholarship & Mentoring Program. Participants are tasked with solving a problem they’re passionate about in their community. For Shubham, this was mental health.

“I chose to do mental health, because at that time I was seeing a lot of people struggling with it,” said Shubham.

Shubham conducted research and interviewed students, teachers and other members of the community to look at how he could better support the mental health of those around him. Some clear themes began to emerge.

“I saw anxiety and stress was one of the main things,” said Shubham.

He saw mindfulness as a way of helping to address these factors, and support other elements of well-being.

“Mindfulness helps you in a lot of different spheres. It helps you with empathy and it helps you focus. It relaxes your nerves,” said Shubham.

In a school setting, mindfulness has the added benefit of supporting the academic success of students, too.

“In over 6,000 studies that have been done, it has been proved that mindfulness also helps students with their courses and memorization,” said Shubham.

In the feedback he has collected so far from students, “80% of that is positive, that mindfulness really helps them,” said Shubham.

Some students are taking the strategy of mindfulness with them, and using it outside of the class sessions to support their mental health, he shared.

“They use mindfulness in their personal life, before a test or presentation,” said Shubham.

As he reflects on his hopes for what students take from Mindful Mornings, he focuses on improving the experiences of students throughout the WRDSB.
“I am hoping that through mindfulness, I can help them feel more relaxed at school. Even during tests and presentations,” said Shubham. “The biggest difference I hope this makes for students is that it makes their school life easier.”

He knows it’s hard to find time to support your well-being, but he hopes that students are able to see first-hand how taking five to ten minutes can make a real difference.

“Taking some time for self care is really important in life,” said Shubham.

Educators have been invited to bring the Mindful Mornings program to their classrooms as Shubham looks to reach more students. (View Staff Intranet Post)

“I just want more students to be involved in this.”