About the Inner Strength System
Designed for High School
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 adolescents in mind, an age group that is facing important life-decisions. The goal of the program is to provide essential support and to foster the insight, creativity and emerging selfhood of our city’s adolescents. The program’s mission is to provide aspiring youth 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.
Whole School Supports
Inner Strength partners with schools to help provide students, teachers, and administrators with tools to uplift the climate, improve relationships, augment focus, and create more supportive learning environments. Schools are populated by people. The culture of testing often obscures the humanity of teachers and students, as all rush to perform or discipline harshly when performance falls below standard. Supporting the social-emotional wellness of students and staff alleviates many disruptions and distractions. Once you lay the foundation for a reflective classroom, one that implements learning activities that cultivate calm, curiosity and care, you’ll allow the flowering of a student’s creative potential and make schools true places of learning and discovery.
The Inner Strength works with schools in a variety of ways including:
- The IS-Teen program is delivered as an in-school program, with weekly 50-minute lessons, for 12 consecutive weeks.
- Reducing Secondary Stress Professional Development (IS-RSS) for Teachers: Inner Strength works with teachers, offering Professional Development sessions to reduce secondary traumatic stress, which is becoming increasingly common in schools. This IS-RSS program improves teachers’ occupational satisfaction, reduces burnout and occupational fatigue, mitigates the effects of secondary trauma, and improves classroom culture and learning outcomes.
- Student Assemblies: Inner Strength also provides engaging student assemblies so an entire grade level can experience mindfulness and stress reduction tools, preparing them for a deeper dive in the full program.
- Inner Strength Mindfulness Mobile App: all participants in Inner Strength programs have unlimited free access to the new Inner Strength app, with challenges, activities, engaging polls that track the 12-lessons of the IS-Teen program.
- Day Retreats: Inner Strength will work with your students on team building mindful awareness day retreats that orient incoming Freshmen, and help other students develop new relationships to support learning and collegiality in the school. (With COVID-19, all in-person retreats are on hold.)
This whole school support model ensures that everyone benefits from integrating self-care and self-reflection into the fabric of the school
The Inner Strength Teen Program
Through age-appropriate lessons on the development of the brain and on cultural shifts, students become archaeologists of themselves. They learn to see their experience in a much bigger context. Able to excavate layers of influence, adolescents learn the invaluable skill of systems thinking, being able to see large-scale influence on their personal experience. Most report feeling a sense of ease and relief, understanding that their personal challenges are not theirs alone.
Results & Impact
The broad perspective and multi-faceted approach 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, less stress and anxiety, greater happiness, and a sense of possibility.
External research studies show that Inner Strength student participants show statistically significant improvement in long term self-regulation, self-compassion, success orientation, and a decrease in rumination. These are all indicators of improved mental health and are correlated to improved learning outcomes.
Empower Our Future Leaders
The teens of today are stewards of our shared future. The Inner Strength Teen Program gives them tools to be responsible, innovative, and open-hearted.
Explore Bringing Inner Strength to Your School
Contact admin AT innerstrengthfoundation.net to explore how you could bring the Inner Strength System to your school.
The Teen Program runs once a week for 12 consecutive weeks.
All school mindfulness programs are held in-school as part of a student’s regular curriculum.
Greater Philadelphia Area
This Philadelphia-based program serves local inner-city schools. Licensed programs run in other states and countries.
We are committed to making the program affordable for under-funded, under-resourced public schools.
“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
Culture & Me
The Art of Relationship
Mind & Awareness
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Bodine HS of International Affairs
GIRARD ACADEMIC MUSIC PROGRAM
G.W. Carver Engineering Sciences
HILL FREEDMAN Peace & Social Justice
Kensington Health Sciences
Lankenau Environmental Sciences
Murrell Dobbins Career & Tech
Philadelphia HS for Girls
Science Leadership Academy
South Philadelphia High School
Swenson Arts & Tech
Young Scholars Academy
Great Valley Middle & High School Faculty
The Haverford Middle School Diversity Conference
Philadelphia Education Fund |Philadelphia Scholars
Gillingham Charter School
Jewish Family & Children’s Services-PHL
WorkReady, Urban Affairs Coalition & Philadelphia Youth Network
Moore College of the Arts
ArtistYear, Philadelphia, NYC, CO
CB Schools, Philadelphia
Jackson Hole, WY
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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