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Queen Creek students practicing mindfulness, meditation

Posted at 6:08 AM, Mar 03, 2017

Students at Gateway Polytechnic Academy in the Queen Creek School District are practicing mindfulness and meditation in a new club. 

"We take three deep breaths and on the last breath, we breathe out for five seconds," said fifth-grader Elyssa Land.

Fifth-grade teacher Melissa Smith said she noticed a lot of her students had anxiety -- and the girls responded well to the new lessons.

The club meets once a week on Monday mornings during the lunch hour. The girls create a circle around Smith and the practice breathing exercises.  

The girls even made "worry dolls." They tell the dolls all the things that are stressing them out and sleep with it underneath their pillow.

Many of the students said they use the calming techniques in class and at home. 

"I like to find a quiet place and just sit down and realize I'm in control and I'm good," said fifth-grader Shannon Barlow. 

It may be a unique approach in the classroom but Smith said it's important for her students to feel comfortable and safe.

"Life skills are one of the number one things we need to do as teachers and we don't have a curriculum for that and we don't have a standard for that," said Smith. "We have to just know we are teaching kids and we are not teaching subjects."