8th Grade Completes Mindful Teen 2023

8th Grade Completes Mindful Teen 2023
Posted on 12/01/2023
The last day of “Wellness Wednesday: Mindful Teen” students made a calming jar as a reminder and visual of what mindfulness looks and feels like.  Similar to a snow globe, this jar is made of water, glue and glitter which can be mixed up and cloudy at times making it hard to focus but giving it time to settle in a calm space while breathing, it will settle and become clear again. Washington Middle School students Pheonix Inman and Gael Palacios worked together to make their calming jars. Students were challenged to shake the jars and then let them sit.  After two full minutes of slow, quiet breathing waiting for the calming jar to settle was an example of how to step away from stressful situations for mindfulness which can help handle strong emotions.

Washington Middle School 8th Grade Health Completes “Mindful Teen: From Surviving to Thriving”


With the end of Term 1 at Washington Middle School, 24 8th grade Health students participated in a social and emotional enrichment program called “Mindful Teen: From Surviving to Thriving in a Busy World”.   This curriculum comes from Iowa 4-H and was delivered once a week on “Wellness Wednesdays” by Washington County Extension & Outreach youth coordinator Amy Green.

The workshop series is based on the book, “The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time,” by Dr. Dzung Vo, an adolescent medicine specialist and clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia.

Research shows that mindfulness benefits overall well-being in the following ways: improved relationships, sleep, and performance in school, work, and extracurricular activities, better focus and concentration, improved self-awareness, increased empathy, and decreased stress and anxiety.  The Mindful Teen workshop series helps foster mindfulness skill development and thoughtful reflection and aims to reduce stress and risk of mental illness.

A 2020 survey administered by the National 4-H Council found that 82% of teens wished America would talk more openly and honestly about mental health. The 2021 Iowa Youth Survey reported that 21% of Iowa 8th graders and 24% of 11th graders thought about suicide in the last year. Even before the pandemic began, 81% of teens viewed mental health as a significant issue for youth.

“We have seen some of those heart-breaking mental health statistics as real-life stories in our county affecting our young people and families.  We want to link arms with others who care about our kids to invest in this important work.  Our kids deserve it,” said Green.  “I believe the Mindful Teen program is one way.  We are grateful to be able to provide youth with opportunities to learn healthy coping strategies and tools they can practice and apply in their current life and as future adults, as well as give them some social connection,”

92% of the participants said they had learned new mindfulness practices, skills and resources that could be applied to their own life.   Students reported the workshop series made them feel “relaxed, confident, good, calm, welcomed, good to know more”.  Green will return to WMS to teach the remaining 8th grade Health classes this coming spring reaching a total of just over 110 8th grade students. 


The Mindful Teen: From Surviving to THRIVING is intentionally designed to align with several Iowa Department of Education and national educational standards in order to support youths’ growth and development, as well as complement what they are learning in school. 


This program is delivered by Washington County Extension & Outreach with grant support from Jefferson, Keokuk, Van Buran, and Washington County Decatergorization Project. 



Iowa 4-H has begun to expand The Mindful Teen workshop series across the state to reach new audiences by training facilitators. Facilitator training is now available for current or potential 4-H volunteers, community and school partners, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff who are interested in implementing it in-person or virtually with youth in their area.

Any caring adult passionate about this topic and empowering youth in partnership with Washington County 4-H should contact the Washington County Extension Office on ways to get involved.   For additional details about Mindful Teen program, please contact Amy Green at [email protected] or 319-653-4811.