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Speaker Spotlight: Kathy Flaminio

Integrative Education is looking forward to welcoming Kathy Flaminio, MSW, LGSW, E-RYT 200 as a speaker at the 2023 IE Symposium. Kathy is the founder and CEO of movemindfully® and will be presenting Course I: Safe to Engage: Maximize Readiness for Learning with movemindfully. Read on to learn about Kathy’s unique career path that led to the creation of movemindfully as well as how you could benefit from the Safe to Engage course.



A Beginning in Social Work

Kathy always had the idea of following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming a social worker. Despite growing up in a small town in Iowa, Kathy felt fortunate to have an integrative upbringing with opportunities to watch her mom work in the schools as well as observe her father’s work as an archeologist and anthropologist which included hosting people from all around the world at local symposiums. When Kathy entered college she double majored in anthropology, and human services with a minor in Spanish. Following graduation, she accepted her first job at Hispanos en Minnesota, a bilingual drug prevention program located in St. Paul before eventually going on to get her master’s degree in social work. Upon graduating, Kathy accepted a job with Minneapolis Public Schools. Knowing she wanted to work with children, Kathy felt she could provide the greatest impact in a school setting by teaming with families and educators.


An Epiphany

During her time as a school social worker, Kathy also worked a second job in the fitness industry. For many years, her two roles had very little overlap, until one day in 2005 when she had an epiphany. That particular day, Kathy was feeling overwhelmed and having a difficult time. While working with a chatty group of 5th-grade girls, she suddenly decided that they were going to stop talking and instead do yoga-based movements. At that moment, Kathy realized she had spent years working with her students “from the chin up” while failing to incorporate her expertise in movement and breathing techniques that she knew could play a critical role in supporting emotional well-being. Not only did the students love the activities, Kathy saw these practices were making an impact and the students were able to start generalizing what they were learning right away. Integrating yoga-based movement and mindfulness into her small group sessions created a significant impact which allowed both Kathy and her students to access inner strength, resilience, and a sense of agency. One of her 5th-grade students even said, with tears in her eyes “What is this? I feel so calm but my life is a mess.” Within weeks, students were using the strategies in the classroom and at home as well as teaching others!


Despite mindfulness and movement not being commonplace in the school social work realm at the time, Kathy was fortunate to have supportive administrators who allowed her to dive deeper into this important connection she had begun to make. Kathy and her colleague, occupational therapist Julie Hurtubise, were eventually granted a one-year sabbatical to research how mindfulness, movement, and mental health were being incorporated around the country. This research led them to Portland, Oregon where the founders of Yoga Calm® were doing just that. Kathy and Julie became trained in Yoga Calm and quickly discovered the importance of supporting the mind, body, and heart in their work with not only students but educators as well. While the goal of her sabbatical was to find ways to support students’ self-regulation and connection, she soon realized that these strategies could also provide deeply needed stress management for educators.


Sharing with Others

Upon returning from their sabbatical, Kathy and Julie were not only able to immediately implement what they had learned with their students, staff, and families, they also began to teach others. Over the next two years, they offered Yoga Calm workshops and those that attended were then able to do action research with their students. This action research allowed educators to see the amazing results that came from a variety of disciplines (occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, teachers, and behavior specialists) incorporating Yoga Calm® into their work with students. They saw their students becoming more attentive and self-reflective. These strategies were also allowing students to move beyond autonomic nervous system responses to stressors and truly engage the prefrontal cortex in reasoning and problem-solving. They also achieved buy-in and carryover from the students’ whole team by modeling simple strategies in IEP meetings. Additionally, the research confirmed that teachers who implemented the program personally experienced benefits as well, reporting calming and stress-reducing impacts.


movemindfully

Next, Kathy felt called to expand the reach of her work, knowing the impact it could have across the lifespan. Kathy founded movemindfully with a mission of “fostering physical, emotional, and mental health for youth, adults, and families with simple and accessible trauma-responsive mind body practices.” movemindfully not only provides full school training and programming, but it also serves a variety of other settings including healthcare facilities serving populations ranging from children to older adults. Another way movemindfully has had a meaningful impact in the community is through providing programming within juvenile detention centers. In addition to serving these populations directly, movemindfully offers a wide variety of workshops, trainings, and video-based products available to clinicians, educators, leaders, and families. movemindfully provides simple and accessible tools that reflect real people within the community. Their signature Breathe, Move, Rest practices are integrated into all of the training, programming, and resources that movemindfully provides. Most recently, movemindfully has introduced an app that provides access to over 130 Breathe, Move, Rest moves and routines on both phones and tablets and is available in three languages. It is a simple tool that can be used in schools, homes, and therapeutic settings that serves as a guide for social-emotional learning. Benefits to users include reduced stress, increased focus, and improved mental health.


Safe to Engage

Kathy’s upcoming 2023 IE Symposium course, Safe to Engage: Maximize Readiness for Learning with movemindfully, will explore and experience the how and why behind trauma-responsive mind-body practices to create a sense of safety for children, youth, and staff, maximizing their ability to heal and learn. Knowing that individuals who are regulated are able to move into a state of safe engagement, the course will look at regulation tools to support the autonomic nervous system, especially during flight, fight, freeze responses. This will include learning how to implement and incorporate Breathe Move Rest practices both for yourself and your clients. The course will cover the impact of co-regulation and the importance of making sure you are showing up in a regulated state for your clients both physically and mentally. Participants will learn tools for how to use their thoughts to change what is happening in their bodies and how to use their bodies to change what is happening in their thoughts. While cognitive approaches are helpful, trauma is held in the body, so it is important to incorporate both! During the course, participants will learn about and experience movemindfully Inner Resource cards to discover how Inner Resources can support them personally and professionally.


The course will provide:

  • Foundational concepts of trauma and how Breathe Move Rest practices can be used to balance energy levels, manage stress/anxiety, and handle big emotions.

  • A better understanding of the vagus nerve and its impacts as well as simple movements to provide vagus nerve stimulation.

  • Strategies to create a mindful space, first within your own body and then within physical spaces.

  • Implement mind-body practices for self-regulation and co-regulation to promote an environment of safety.

  • Understanding how anxiety and lack of sleep impacts well-being as well as straightforward practices to support these areas.


Kathy’s hope is that the course will allow participants to integrate the science into many simple and effective trauma-responsive practices they can start implementing right away.


Don’t miss your opportunity to explore and experience the how and why behind trauma-responsive mind-body practices to create a sense of safety for children, youth, and staff, maximizing their ability to heal and learn. Be sure to go to our IE Symposium registration page to register for Course I: Safe to Engage: Maximize Readiness for Learning with movemindfully. In the meantime, Kathy encourages each of us to “start to honor where your body is at.” Create moments where you can recognize and respond to what your body needs in that instant, whether it be breathwork, movement, or simply rest.


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