What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D as, “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

What is the Crim Mindfulness Initiative?

The Crim Fitness Foundation serves as the lead agency in our community’s Mindfulness Initiative which launched in 2011 as a small pilot project. Today, a small, skilled mindfulness team convenes more than 30 local and national collaborators to support 6,000 Flint youth and 2000 adults annually to thrive; building the skills of mindful awareness, courageous connection, and compassionate leadership through trauma and resiliency informed practices.

In 2018, an invitation from the Foundation for a Mindful Society to serve as the flagship city in a national Mindful Cities Initiative supported our efforts to deepen engagement and collaboration within and across our education, health, business and community (civic, faith, and non-profit) sectors to support a more, thriving, vibrant, and equitable community.

Offerings include

  • Community Wide Cross-sector Engagement
    • Mindful organizational culture and climate consulting and training available for the health, education, business and community sector (civic, faith, and non-profit organizations).
  • Mindful Community Leadership Development
    • Community Ambassadors for Youth program engages and supports more than 100 volunteers who serve Flint youth. Ambassadors are engaged as key participants in the design and delivery of programming and connected with training, resources, and a learning community.
    • Mindful Crim Fellowship program engages and supports 18 community leaders in an intensive 3-year learning journey to apply for certification to teach the Search Inside Yourself Leadership training program in partnership with the Crim Fitness Foundation.
  • Community workshops, trainings, programs and courses
    • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and Resiliency workshops
    • Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, and Compassionate Leadership trainings including:
      • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
      • Search Inside Yourself Leadership Training
      • Yoga Ed. Professional Institute
      • Locally designed workshops including: Mindful Me and Playing Attention
    • Annual gathering with past speakers including Deepak Chopra, Jon Kabat-Zinn, George Mumford and the Holistic Life Foundation.
  • Community Mindfulness and Yoga classes hosted weekly at multiple sites

All offerings are designed to be inclusive and support choice, agency, and empowerment; inviting diverse individuals, groups, and organizations to navigate personal and collective stressors in increasingly healthy, connected, and compassionate ways.

The Need for Mindful Practice

Mindfulness supports health and well-being for all. When the water crisis hit Flint, the positive impacts of mindfulness became even more important as Flint youth were now also confronted with the potential of ongoing cognitive difficulties due to prolonged lead exposure. Research shows mindful practices may stimulate growth and connectivity in some of the brain structures and neural networks that can be impacted by lead exposure.

In September 2016 Dr. B Grace Bullock wrote “Crim Fitness Foundation Mindfulness Initiative.” This white paper summarizes the ways that mindfulness skills hold promise for increasing key cognitive and behavioral capacities and social competencies that are most affected by lead exposure.


Since it began in 2011, the Crim Mindfulness Initiative has engaged more than 18,297 community members through training, events, and programming. In 2017 alone, more than 6,000 youth and 2,000 adults participated in mindfulness programming.

Drs. Karin Pfeiffer and Julia Felton of Michigan State University (MSU), Dr. Lenwood Hayman of University of Michigan, and Dr. B Grace Bullock of Oregon Research Institute all contribute to the evaluation and research of the initiative.

Program research and evaluation is currently most heavily focused on school programming efforts. A pilot study conducted in 2015 by Dr. Karin Pfeiffer of MSU found that mindfulness programming positively impacted the cognitive, emotional, and social health of youth in Flint schools.

  • 73% of students felt mindfulness helped them focus and make better decisions
  • 61% of students shared that mindfulness helped them avoid fights

Teacher reports of student behavior obtained during formative evaluation of Crim Mindfulness programming suggests that students in Flint may be benefiting from mindful practices in the classroom. Specifically students were observed to be more self-aware, better at regulating their emotions and behavior, and engaged in more prosocial and helping behaviors.

In December 2017, the team conducted a survey of all educators served by the initiative.

  • 96.6% of the 112 educators who responded reported that mindfulness is a valuable practice for their students
  • 87% practice mindfulness in the classroom with their students