Calmer Choice is a community-based organization that partners with local schools to teach students personal and practical skills that can help to increase their inner resilience, manage and reduce the impacts of stress, strengthen their ability to control their own emotional responses, and increase their sense of well-being. Using these skills in real life situations can empower and protect children and adolescents against the negative effects of stress, harassment and bullying, thereby diminishing the risk of violence, substance abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors which may end with tragic results.
Since it was founded, Calmer Choice has grown to provide a primary/universal prevention program, to more than 6,000 Cape Cod school children in programs held at 18 different schools across 8 separate school districts.
The program consists of 16, 20-minute lessons twice per week for 8 weeks, adapted to fit the needs of each school. We ask that the classroom teachers to participate in the work in order to learn more about the program both to support it for their students and to benefit from the stress reduction aspects of the training for themselves.
Calmer Choice's programs have been informed by many things including Developmental Frames of Reference (Bandura, Piaget, Vygotsky etc), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Butler, Chapman, & Beck 2006), Systems Theory (von Bertalanffy), Interpersonal Neurobiology (Siegle), Emotional Intelligence (Goleman), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)(Zindel, Williams, Teasdale).
Calmer Choice's programs include components which specifically address the Social and Emotional Health strand of the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Comprehensive Health. Calmer Choice is committed to the highest level of ethical standards in its continuous improvement process and quality.
As a growing organization more teachers and schools are now asking to participate in the Calmer Choice program and to learn more about the skills and practices needed to integrate its benefits into the culture of their school.
To meet this demand and to recognize current and future participating schools’ growth, Calmer Choice has created a “Multi-Phase Continuum to Self-Sufficiency.” Starting with the traditional Calmer Choice program in the classroom, we provide schools with a step-by-step plan whereby they will eventually become fully capable of independently providing this training in-house. This supports schools’ ownership of their own prevention programs, giving them the tools in which to incorporate these skills as part of their overall school culture. Calmer Choice has also provided trainings to mental and behavioral health professionals from major Cape Cod agencies and is establishing collaborations with those agencies providing mental health services to youth in the schools.
Calmer Choice is now providing Mindful Resilience Training for Teachers for Health and Happiness (MIRTH); a training developed specifically for those working in schools to support stress reduction practice for themselves. Calmer Choice has found that as educators begin using these strategies in their own lives it begins to ripple into the classroom and throughout the school. Providing this training helps support schools' ownership of their own prevention programs, giving them the tools to incorporate this as part of their overall school culture.
Calmer Choice has now reached a point in its development that it has identified five distinct “phases” (Continuum to Self-Sufficiency) through which schools transition in the process to becoming fully capable of providing Calmer Choice programming independently, without Calmer Choice instructors involved in the delivery of curriculum content in the classroom.
The goal is to move participating schools from being “passive” participants - with Calmer Choice Instructors delivering the program in the classroom - to being “active” participants as select faculty and/or staff are Calmer Choice-trained to deliver the program. It is at this point that this universal prevention and intervention program truly sustains itself in the school and these skills and strategies become part of the school-wide culture.
Collaboration is a keystone of the Calmer Choice program. As a nonprofit organization, Calmer Choice must be invited into the schools and welcomed by administrators as well as the teachers and parents of the students. The close working relationship with teachers and administration are evident in that Calmer Choice has been requested to continue programming in almost every participating school. Each passing year finds more schools are making their staff available for workshops and training sessions and have assisted with in-kind support in the form of printing and materials. Calmer Choice looks forward to providing schools with whatever level of service best suits their needs.