Using Mindfulness to Support School Communities After the Camp Fire

In November of 2018, a deadly and destructive wildfire swept through Northern California – taking 86 lives, and destroying 13,000 homes. Known as the “Camp Fire,” it displaced entire communities in a matter of days.
In the community of Paradise, school buildings were completely burnt down.Teachers and students relocated to surrounding areas, many of which had also been impacted by the fire.

“Disasters like wildfires, particularly when they affect an entire community, resulting in loss of property and life, can leave many with psychological impacts. The scars from these losses and irreversible changes to the surrounding communities can be devastating to young students as their brains are still developing. Destruction of one’s hometown and the land can be as devastating as losing a house or possessions,” writes Journalist Natalie Hanson in an article about the anniversary of the fire.

Our team at Inner Explorer recognized that these school communities needed mental health resources, such as mindfulness, during this time of chronic stress and crisis. First, we reached out to teachers to offer a workshop centered around how mindfulness could help them in supporting their well-being. Over 60 teachers came to learn breathing and relaxation exercises, thought and emotional regulation, and how to practice compassion with themselves and their students during a difficult time. Next, we worked with LG Electronics and Daybreaker, LLC to raise money to supply school communities in Paradise with access to mindfulness.

As part of the Daybreaker “One World Observatory” dance held on the International Day of Happiness, enough funds were raised to support the nine schools that had burned down in Paradise with our program. Through mindfulness, students and teachers were able to find a few moments of calm each day, despite the devastating circumstances. “I didn’t even know we needed it until I was in the classroom, doing mindfulness exercises with the students,” shares Nancy Medina, a case study manager.

A special thank you to LG Electronics and Daybreaker, LLC for working with us to ensure these school communities received support.