Schools

About the Teen Program


The Inner Strength Teen Program is the only school mindfulness program in Philadelphia developed specifically for high school students. Educator Amy Edelstein created the program with an older age-group in mind, a group facing important life-decisions, to provide essential support and foster the insight, creativity and emerging selfhood of our city’s adolescents. The program’s mission is to provide aspiring youth from primarily at-risk communities with tools to self reflect, develop interpersonal skills, and gain perspective on how our culture and physiology affect us. This self-development creates inner strength, providing resources for teens to manage challenges and succeed as they move on to higher education and enter the workforce.

As students learn to calm and center themselves, they discover a pliability, resilience, and renewed interest in life.

Through age-appropriate contextual lessons on cultural development, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience, students become budding archaeologists of themselves. Able to excavate layers of influence, vast cultural changes, adolescents learn the invaluable skill of being able to see their personal experience in a greater context.

This broad perspective gives adolescents tools to transform the stresses that assault them from within and without. It also introduces them to a worldview that can directly help them engage productively with our rapidly changing world.

Students emerge from this inquiry and practice more deeply connected and connected to life. They regularly describe experiencing more calm, space, lightness, happiness, and a sense of possibility.

The young women and men of this next generation are stewards of our future. The Inner Strength Teen Program gives them tools to be responsible, creative, and generous shepherds of the possible.

“Without a doubt, young people need the mental skills that enable them to learn, understand themselves, and relate to others as they move toward taking their place in the world as adults. The Inner Strength Teen Program is designed to cultivate these wholesome habits of mind through mindfulness, self-discovery, and engagement with others. Rooted in mindfulness practice, the curriculum is unique in its inclusion of social and cultural history, which offers a particularly important perspective for adolescents who experience its impact on their daily lives. This very accessible program offers an engaging, compassionate, and culturally relevant experience for youth and can be of great value to them at this critically important time in their lives.”

Patricia Broderick, Ph.D.
Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center
Pennsylvania State University
author of Learning to Breathe

“Teaching Mindfulness in our schools has been shown to be an effective way to reduce students’ stress and reactivity, increase their focus and well-being, and provide them with life-long tools for a more meaningful and satisfying lifestyle. An excellent example of how mindfulness is being introduced in education is the Inner Strength Foundation Teen Program developed by Amy Edelstein. Each program element effectively serves to reinforce how teens can use mindfulness to re-set, be present, and support themselves. By helping them to respond more mindfully, appropriately, and with kindness to life’s triggers, the students develop an inner strength that can reshape and empower their lives. I highly recommend this program be adopted by as many high schools as possible!

Scott McBride
Penn Program for Mindfulness
Senior Teacher for 20 years
University of Pennsylvania
Director of ClearLight Meditation Institute

“Even though I sometimes feel like I can’t meditate, when I do it is amazing to be able to control the emotions I tend to feel.”Rosita, 16 years
Not only did this course help expand my horizons on how I perceive, it also helped me to become more aware of my surroundings and myself.Michelle, 17 years
I always think to myself, “Where would I be if I didn’t have meditation?” I’m pretty sure I would be stressing out for no reason and my life would be a mess.Peter, 16 years
 

QUICK FACTS

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    12 Weeks

    The Teen Program runs once a week for 12 consecutive weeks.

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    In-School Program

    All school mindfulness programs are held in-school as part of a student’s regular curriculum.

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    Greater Philadelphia Area

    The Inner Strength Foundation currently provides its Teen Program to 1200 students per year in 8 public high schools in Philadelphia. (see below)

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    Cost

    We are committed to making the program affordable for under-funded, under-resourced public schools. The program is underwritten (in full or part) for most Philadelphia Public High Schools. Private, Charter, and Suburban schools please contact ISF to see how to bring the program to your school.


 

Program Areas


Mind & Awareness

Time-honored, evidence-based tools to promote ease & self-reflection.

Brain Science

Biological growth stages & evolutionary conditioning.

Culture & Me

Big history shows us where we come from and why our experience is colored the way it is.

The Art of Relationship

Compassion for self and other, learning to cultivate good habits of mind.

“It taught me self control and what it’s like to discover something new.”Khalil, 15 years
“I find myself less depressed and not so apprehensive. I am leaning away from my usual pessimistic ways.”
Tiara, 16 years
“I learned that my brain is not yet done developing and there is a reason for when I’m feeling upset for no reason.”Vicki, 17 years

Mind & Awareness

INQUIRY & EXPERIENCE

Students explore the nature of mind, thought, and awareness. They learn and practice 6 essential evidence-based mindfulness techniques. These tools are shown to have a demonstrable effect on classroom climate and on individual student emotional well-being. Students learn to manage stress, anxiety, and anger. By practicing these simple tools together and on their own with free audio supports, students cultivate focus, relaxation, and calm.

RESPECTFUL & FUN

The program is interactive and fun. Our pedagogical design fosters curiosity and ease. Respecting teens’ experience while holding high expectations of them builds a stable and strong foundation of self. Creative and experiential teaching techniques makes the classes engaged, transformative, and fun, inspiring students to make the joy of mindful awareness a lifelong practice.

Brain Science

EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

Students love learning about the brain and, more specifically, their brains. How deeply are we conditioned by 300 million years of brain development? What reptilian survival instincts are buried deep within us, no matter how hip and sophisticated we may be? Learning about these influences–why we panic and want to disappear or lash out in the ways we do validates an adolescents’ inner experience. It demystifies and depersonalizes those reactions, weeding out self-recrimination while building in self-regulation.

NEUROSCIENCE

What’s happening in the adolescent brain? Learning about the unique and critical role of adolescent brain growth gives students positive pride in the often confusing stage of development they find themselves in the midst of. Most importantly, understanding the physiological conditioning they are propelled by gives adolescents the wherewithal to build in safety mechanisms and become responsible for themselves.

Culture & Me

CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT

Students experience the power of transformative learning through participatory lessons showing the influence of history. They discover how major shifts over the last 800 years have significantly changed our experience of life. We’ve gained individual freedoms and responsibilities, as well as stresses. As students come to appreciate the interplay between their personal experience and the culture around them they also discover a greater purpose for their struggle: the solutions they find for their concerns are cultural solutions. We need to develop new social structures for the level of freedom we now have, and this generation discovers they have crucial role to play.

SYSTEMIC & INTEGRATED THINKING

Learning to think systemically, integrating personal experience, emotional responses, cultural factors, historical trajectory, and neurological impulses creates flexibility and stimulates a student’s interest in themselves and in life. This multi-dimensional approach creates plasticity and resilience, helping students develop cognitive and emotional skills necessary to excel in our rapidly changing world.

The Art of Relationship

THE ART & SCIENCE OF RELATIONSHIP

Adolescence is characterized by the increased importance of peer-to-peer relationships. Yet teens are rarely taught how to cultivate positive relationships. Mindfulness trains students to be able to pause before drawing strong conclusions about themselves or others, allowing them to find more wholesome ways of interacting and connecting. As they cultivate objectivity on their thoughts and feelings, they develop the space to connect and engage with others.

CULTIVATING COMPASSION

Students often say the compassion exercises are their favorite (after of course the chocolate meditation). Perhaps surprisingly, they love to learn the art of caring and extending generosity of spirit. Some of the latest neuroscience research studies show that within a remarkably short period of time, kids as young as 4 years old, show change from these exercises. Adolescents regularly report that compassion meditation helps them feel connected and happier.

 

To schedule an informational school visit, contact Amy Edelstein.


Email Amy

If you have had your informational session and are ready to apply to bring the program to your school, please download the school application here.


Download Application here
 

Participating Schools

Bodine

Central

GIRARD ACADEMIC MUSIC PROGRAM

HILL FREEDMAN

Masterman

Science Leadership Academy

South Philadelphia High School

Parkway Northwest

Palumbo

Application Page


BRING MINDFULNESS TO YOUR SCHOOL

PARTICIPATE IN THE RESEARCH STUDY

Access the school application form here to bring the Inner Strength Teen Program to your school. 

If your school is already running the Inner Strength Teen Program and would like to be included in the research study, please access all relevant documents here. Password required, contact ISF.


KAREN THOMAS
Principal
Bodine High School for International Affairs

“When our school expanded meditation for more students, the results were palpable throughout the school.  Students are now calmer, less reactive, and generally seem more content and focused.  Many thanks!”

DANIEL GOFREDDO
Asst. Superintendent
Great Valley School Dist.

“Amy Edelstein’s work with our teachers and staff has helped them to remain balanced, healthy, and self-aware. Our teachers and staff learned and practiced mindfulness techniques that not only supported their own well-being, but also that of their students. All in all, Amy’s ability to incorporate mindfulness techniques, along with her wide array of personal experiences, benefitted our staff greatly.”

HEATHER MARCUS
COUNSELOR
J. MASTERMAN HIGH SCHOOL

“Our students definitely benefited from participating in the Inner Strength Mindfulness program. They said that they were glad to practice in class because they might not have done so on their own, and it was a well-needed time to relax during a hectic school day. Some also said that the benefits continued beyond the class period as it helped them to ward off stress and sleep better at night. Many were excited to learn a skill that is useful now and will also be useful in the future.”

Staff Development Programs
Parent Night Presentations
Teen Mindfulness Fieldtrips
School-wide Programs