Holistic Life Foundation’s Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Curriculum (SRMC)

The Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Curriculum (SRMC) was created by the Holistic Life Foundation (HLF) for school-based use, adapted from the organization’s popular after-school program. It is geared toward elementary and middle school students and introduces them to mindfulness practices and conflict resolution skills with the goal of improving concentration, self-regulation, and self-awareness.

HLF was founded in 2001 by brothers Ali and Atman Smith, along with college friend Andres Gonzalez. The brothers had each practiced meditation since childhood, and all three developed a yoga practice in college. After graduation, they wanted to bring the benefits of these practices back to the Baltimore community, where Ali and Atman had grown up.

SRMC is offered as a 24-week course of two, 45-minute sessions per week during resource periods aimed at academic/learning assistance. It emphasizes yoga, meditation, breathing, and Tai Chi, along with other mind- and body-based exercises. The sessions include discussions on mindfulness related topics, and students are given homework to complete between sessions for greater impact.

According to the HLF, SRMC was the subject of the first randomized controlled trial of a school-based mindfulness and yoga intervention for urban youth (Holistic Life Foundation, 2016). Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University studied the impact of the curriculum on students in four Baltimore City Public Schools. Findings showed that students engaged in the program showed gains in emotional regulation and a reduction in involuntary stress reactions (Mendelson et al., 2010). The same researchers are further studying the program as a part of a 3-year, federally funded trial in six public elementary and middle schools in Baltimore City.

The curriculum currently serves 7,500 students per week in more than 40 Baltimore area schools.