Positive Psychology in the Foster System



Since my Catalyst Conference project is focused on foster children in the Detroit Public School system and the underlying problem for them is a lack of funds for resources, I think mindfulness exercises would have a positive impact on the kids. These exercises would encourage the children to notice what is around them rather than the lack of necessary items. Although this is not a fix for the flaws in the system and there are necessary changes that need to be made, the positive psychology exercises that are implemented in the model curriculum will help improve mental health within the students.

Spidey Senses: A mindfulness and awareness themed game where the children activate their ‘spidey senses’ and notice absolutely everything around them. The benefits of mindfulness exercises (such as this one) for kids include improved academic achievement, decrease in depression, better overall health, and boosts resilience. Exercises such as these are found to be especially helpful to children in various government systems (Coholic & Eys, 2016).

Safari: The ‘safari’ exercise is essentially a walk where students pay extra attention to the world around them. They are encouraged to look at details they have not noticed before and to search for animals (even small bugs!). This exercise allows the children to reimagine the world around them, especially if their environment is toxic or unfriendly. Implementing awareness exercises such as ‘spidey senses’ and ‘safari’ in classrooms with developing children will create pathways in the brain that encourage positive thinking at an early age, leading to better all around health and wellness benefits.

Gratitude Exercises: I did not include a specific gratitude exercise because there are very many and changing the exercises up will keep interest. The effects of practicing gratitude in children are increased and genuine happiness, less stress, less negativity, and stronger relationships.

Below is a video of basic gratitude exercises that can be used in the classroom

Other Gratitude Exercises for Children:

  • A gratitude jar (place a scrap of paper with something you are grateful for on it in the jar)
  • Volunteer
  • Make a gratitude collage and have a conversation about which pictures were chosen
  • Create a thankful window (designate a window to write on with window markers)
  • Read books about gratitude

CALL TO ACTION: Get yourself, your friends, and your family involved with these practices to raise awareness for the effects of positive psychology


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  1. April 28, 2019 by carolineglahn

    I think that this a totally unique and creative project that I never thought of applying positive psychology to. I also love how the exercises are made into games and are kid friendly so that they are more appealing. Great job!!

  2. April 28, 2019 by lauren silver

    Hi Regan! I love your project! I especially thought that the video brought the information to life and was very beneficial. Keep up the good work!

  3. April 30, 2019 by Donna Boucher

    These are really good ideas for helping improve the lives of foster kids, and the exercises you propose in the schedule are very creative and good for kids. I agree that noticing the things around you and focusing on the good things and writing them down is an effective way to make your daily life happier. Good job!

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