Mind Power: Building techniques for mental wellbeing with Waves 4 Change

At Skateistan, we aim to empower children through skateboarding and education, and combine programs with fun, freedom and creativity to become leaders for a better world. In the skatepark and in the classroom, Skateistan’s educators guide activities to promote wellness, equality, creative expression, and knowledge of natural sciences. Four annual curriculums develop a global perspective through local actions. To meet the needs of students as they grow older, we offer a mental health curriculum called Mind Power, first introduced to our students in South Africa.

A few months ago, our staff team at the Skate School in South Africa learned facilitation techniques for mental wellbeing with an organization called Waves for Change. Techniques learned in the Mind Power curriculum help students stay anchored during emotional moments, an important skill needed to build a future and make positive life choices. The team has lessons to share from the Mind Power curriculum and activities at the Skate School, built in partnership with Waves for Change. 

Waves for Change gives children and youth skills to cope with stress, regulate behaviour, build healing relationships in safe and healthy environments, something that Skateistan has always believed in. Students face challenges as they grow older, particularly as they grow into adolescence, and building techniques for mental wellbeing will help them navigate these challenges. The team in South Africa participated in a week-long workshop to learn the skills to promote and build mindfulness and resiliency skills with young people, and learned how to use these skills as they facilitate programs for students.

The Waves for Change workshop provided techniques for mental wellbeing with various different exercises to teach young people when they’re facing particular roadblocks and challenges in their life. We caught up with our educators at the Skate School in South Africa to learn about some of these exercises, and what the impact has been for students in programs at the Skate School.  

Ashwyne told us about the ‘Take 5’ and ‘Power Hand’ techniques for mental wellbeing. 

“The ‘Take 5’ is a breathing technique used to calm down or to be more mindful. It starts off with deep breathing then it alternates between breathing in through the mouth first and then through your nose first. While the participants are breathing they must notice their surroundings. What they hear, smell, feel, or see?”

Another really powerful technique is called the ‘Power Hand’.

‘Power Hand’ is an activity using your hands. Participants trace their fingers and when they get to the fingertip they name a positive characteristic about themselves. The participants do this till they have done all five fingers.

Educators use these techniques to help students develop better coping skills. For example, when students participate in programs and something doesn’t go as planned for them, educators use the ‘Take 5’ breathing technique to develop their ability to cope with unplanned changes. The ‘Power Hand’ has been an incredible tool to use in instances when students disagree with one another. Disagreements can often cause young people to feel emotional, and the ‘Power Hand’ enables them to be self-reflective using positive self-talk. 

Building techniques for mental wellbeing gives students an ability to stay anchored and calm during emotional moments. They can make better decisions and create more positive life choices. Our students are empowered to become leaders for a better world. 

If you can, make a donation to Skateistan today so we can continue our work to empower children through skateboarding and education.