Project STRETCH was a 3-year study funded by the Aetna Foundation (AWD000000006921) as part of their Cultivating Healthy Communities program that awarded $2 million in grants to 23 nonprofit organizations in 12 states including Florida International University. Project STRETCH (STress REduction To Create Health) was a voluntary 6-week yoga-based stretching and mindfulness program, offered at a Miami-Dade County Public High School (M-DCPS). Enrolled students were invited to participate in small weekly closed group sessions that were held in a designated private area on school grounds and was open to all students between 9th and 12th grade. Project STRETCH curriculum, which was developed in conjunction with input from local high school students, included meditation, yoga-based stretching, and mindfulness exercises. The primary aims of this study are twofold: (1) to expand access to an innovative exercise program to underserved, racial/ethnic minority teens and (2) to investigate how meditation and mind body awareness strategies can benefit youth in multifaceted ways. In previous research, these interventions have been found to lower anxiety, depression and impulsive behavior1,2. In addition, school-based interventions have been found to increase cognitive performance and resilience, as well as, reduce stress and other emotional problems among students.3

Principal Investigator: Michelle Hospital, Ph.D.

Co-Investigators: Eric Wagner, Ph.D. & Staci Leon Morris Psy.D.

Project Coordinator: Eva Wales, M.S. | | (305) 348-4721

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    References to scientific background:

    • 1 Arias, A.J., Steinberg, K., Banga, A., & Trestman, R.L. (2006). Systematic review of the efficacy of meditation techniques as treatments for medical illness. Journal of  Alternative & Complementary Medicine12(8), 817-832. doi:10.1089/acm.2006.12.817
    • 2 Kabat‐Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness‐based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice10(2), 144-156. doi: 10.1093/clipsy/bpg016
    • 3 Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology5, 603. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00603

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