‘Mindful Moment’: How Austin kids can access emotional tools online

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, James Butler wanted to find a way to reach his Austin Independent School District colleagues with messages of support and tools to connect with one another.

“I started doing it because I didn’t know what to do,” Butler told KXAN.

Butler, AISD’s social-emotional learning mindfulness specialist, started posting short videos on Twitter and YouTube he calls his daily “Mindful Moment.” They include breathing and awareness exercises to help viewers center themselves and prepare for the day ahead.

He posts the videos — just over two minutes apiece — each morning around 7 a.m. Teachers started sharing the videos with students they think can benefit from the exercises, Butler said.

Each video features exercises Butler brought to physical classrooms in Austin ISD. Now that students are scattered, he’s bringing them back out.

“This is a time when everyone is having some level of stress,” he said. “If this can be a helpful tool for students and teachers and staff, that’s pretty awesome.”

‘Use us as a resource’

The Austin YMCA is also debuting new kids content this week, launching new live virtual classes in addition to the library of on-demand workout classes it started publishing last week.

The classes include breathing and yoga exercises for kids, and the Y will be rolling out ballet basics, a craft corner and family hangouts and game nights.

“All parents are really worried about their kids right now,” said Meredith Gilmore, the Austin Y’s director of group fitness. “We’re worried about their mental and emotional stress, worried about too much screen time, we’re bribing them with a thousand snacks a day.”

Kids thrive on structure and consistency, she said, and especially for younger children, the changes they’re experiencing are difficult.

“My daughter, for example, is almost 3,” Gilmore said. “She just started school this year, and it took her a while to sort of warm up to it, and now it’s not a part of her everyday life.”

Virtual classes are open to everyone, not just Y members during the pandemic. “Use us as a resource to just get through this tough time as a family, as a community,” Gilmore said.

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