A series of mindfulness programs has begun at the Children’s Museum of Oswego, hosted by a SUNY Oswego graduate student and supported by a college grant.

Siobhan Rodrigues, a master’s in school psychology student, is leading the inaugural seven-session Mindful Movement program at the Children’s Museum of Oswego, corner of West First and Bridge streets in the Port City.

“The Mindful Movement program proposal’s overarching goal is to develop a collaborative relationship between SUNY Oswego and the Children’s Museum of Oswego to help children incorporate mindfulness techniques into their daily lives to promote optimal psychological and physical functioning,” Rodrigues wrote in her successful application for the new Impact Scholarship, funded by the college’s Division of Graduate Studies.

The half-hour programs have been well-received so far, Rodrigues said, providing some fun activities supporting self-awareness, self-control, mind-body connection and imagination in what is often a fast-paced digital-focused world. 

A mother of four who loves working with kids, Rodrigues has been doing yoga for about 10 years, and added children’s yoga along the way. The Mindful Movement program seemed a perfect blend of her academic preparation and personal interests.

“I want to be able to give children tools that can benefit them in a number of ways,” said Rodrigues, who also has her bachelor’s in psychology from SUNY Oswego. It is preventative health work, helping kids learn self-control, problem solving and ways to cope to get them off to a healthy start.

“When I started the master’s program, I really liked the development classes that combined psychology and science and the way they incorporated holistic wellness,” Rodrigues recalled. She found an excellent mentor in Jason Duffy of the counseling and psychological services faculty, who has a background in mindfulness and serves as her mentor for the project. 

Successful start

“So far, it’s been going really well,” Rodrigues said after a recent Friday program enjoyed by several youngsters from the community.

The full schedule of past and upcoming events include:

  • Tuesday, July 16, 3 to 3:30 p.m.: “Body Cues and Clues”
  • Friday, July 19, 10 to 10:30 a.m.: “Guided Imagery Adventure”
  • Thursday, July 25, 10 to 10:30 a.m.: “Partner Yoga”
  • Tuesday, July 23, 3 to 3:30 p.m.: “Mindful Breathing”
  • Tuesday, Aug. 6, 3 to 3:30 p.m.: “Crystal Tones”
  • Friday, Aug. 9, 10 to 10:30 a.m.: “Mindful Jar”
  • Thursday, Aug. 29, 4 to 7 p.m., at the Oswego Farmers’ Market: “Mindful Eating, Smell and Tell”

Kathryn Watson, the education director for the Children’s Museum of Oswego, said the program fits in perfectly since one of the organization’s goals is to promote all kinds of wellness and healthy choices for children.

“She backed it up with so much research,” Watson recalled. “Everything about the program is so well thought out.”

For many of the programs, children ages 5 to 9 might be the core participants, “but I can really adapt this for children of all ages,” Rodrigues said. 

In addition to presenting the programs, Rodrigues also will reflect on the sessions from an academic standpoint to support and encourage similar activities elsewhere. She and Duffy expect to publish a manuscript on this program and experiences in the North Atlantic Region Association for Counselor Educators and Supervisors fall 2019 newsletter, and to submit a proposal to present at the association’s spring 2020 regional conference.

The college’s new Impact Scholars program supports graduate students’ commitment to and capacity for sustained, informed and deliberate community engagement. Scholars submit a proposal that highlights their work in collaboration with community partners to engage and support a community organization, business, institution or not-for-profit. Students are mentored by faculty and utilize their skills and intellect to help solve a community problem or enhance community practices. 

"We are so thrilled that Siobhan and our friends at the Children's Museum of Oswego represent one of our inaugural Impact Scholars particularly because this project is making a real difference in our community and captures the essence of what we envisioned when we developed the Impact Scholars program at SUNY Oswego -- an engaged learning and leadership opportunity for our graduate students to leverage academic preparation, faculty mentorship and community partnerships to co-develop a project with a strong public purpose," said Kristen Eichhorn, the college's dean of graduate studies. 

Watson said a partnership between the museum and community partners like the college makes a lot of sense. “With students at SUNY Oswego who are studying to be experts in the field, we want to bring them in to share their expertise,” Watson said. “We want to be that hub for the community.” 

In addition to continuing to offer programs at the children’s museum, Rodrigues would like to offer services to schools in the future.

“For just a half-hour at the end of the school day a couple times a week, it could really help a lot of children be centered and calm,” Rodrigues said.

For more information on the Children’s Museum of Oswego, visit the CMOO website, email info@cmoo.org or call 315-216-6387.

For more information about school psychology and other graduate programs at SUNY Oswego, visit the Graduate Studies website, email gradstudies@oswego.edu or call 315-312-3152.