Young Parents Growing Together


SHINE is helping young parents grow, navigate life’s challenges, and become better parents. With the generosity and support of three local foundations, we are infusing mindfulness into all four programs at PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs, an affiliate of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

This story is about how mindful awareness practices GT cake with Sandyare integrated into the Growing Together Program. We recently graduated a group of young parents from a 10-session SHINE program. For the graduation celebration, staff member Sandy Myers generously made and decorated this gorgeous cake, complete with the SHINE logo! It was a beautiful time of celebrating how simple mindfulness practices have made a difference in the lives of these young parents.

During our 10 weeks together, we focused on the Keys to Mindfulness, shared victories, practiced mindful listening and speaking, and learned ways to reduce stress and deal with strong feelings. As in all SHINE groups, we used the Native American Council Guidelines to create a safe space for practicing mindful listening and speaking together.

1. Listen from the heart (good communication involves deep listening, first to ourselves, then to others).

2. Speak from the heart (pause, slow down, breathe and tune in to yourself).

3. Speak your truth (be spontaneous and authentic; don’t rehearse).

4. Be lean on speech (say what needs to be said, no more).


The parents themselves had a lot to say about what they learned and how it is making a difference in their lives:

     “The bell is relaxing and I liked the agreements, I liked the support we got from one another.”

     “I showed my mom the keys; they keep my body from tensing up.”

     “[SHINE] helped me to understand my son better, accept him as he is and not see him as bad.”

     “It has helped me to be calm. I learned a lot from other parents.”

     “SHINE makes you feel free inside and out.”

     “I would recommend it to other parents to help with tension.”

Our next step at Growing Together is to start a second cycle of the SHINE program with these newly graduated parents. Our intention is to deepen their learning and encourage their leadership skills. In addition, we are training several staff members to facilitate SHINE so the program can be embedded in the culture of Growing Together, as it is in other PACT programs. Ultimately, the goal is to bring mindfulness into the organization as a whole. It is so rewarding to be part of this transformational work with staff and families.

To what one breath can do,


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