In 2013, the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine began partnering with Larkin Street Youth Services to provide a pilot seven-week Mindfulness for Urban Youth program, developed specifically for this group by the instructor, Forest Fein, MA. The program was sponsored by The Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund, and the program directors include Kevin Barrows, MD, Osher Center Director of Mindfulness Programs, Forest Fein, and Margaret Chesney, PhD, Director of the Osher Center.
Life can be challenging for teens and young adults under the best of circumstances, but for homeless urban teens, it can become nearly unbearable at times. Non-profit organization Larkin Street helps these young people secure such necessities as food, housing, and counseling, to help them navigate the complexities of their lives, and the Osher Center is honored to collaborate with them.
Eight students completed the course and were honored with a graduation ceremony at the Osher Center on Sunday, December 15, where the participants shared how the mindfulness training has impacted their lives. One young woman said, “I’ve been able to have self-love, which is something I have never in my whole life been able to do — to be able to say to myself, ‘May you be calm, may you be peaceful,’ and really appreciate myself.” Another student said, “Before I joined the class, I was going through a lot. I was having insomnia problems, and I was going through depression. [The class] has been helping me — I have been sleeping regularly, and I haven’t had insomnia throughout the seven weeks.”
Instructor Forest Fein, MA, is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher through the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. He teaches throughout the Bay area in variety of settings, including high schools, counseling and health clinics, and meditation retreat centers. He observed, “The more they practiced, the more they reported positive changes within themselves and their lives, and the more we all experienced more genuine kindness, laughter and authenticity within the group.”
We are grateful to Lisa and John Pritzker for providing funding for this pilot project through 2015!