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Youth-Nex | The U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development

  • $1 Million Award for Compassionate Schools Project

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


  • Webinar: The Impact of Poverty and Violence on Children's Social-Emotional Development

    DEC 8 - by the APA Violence Prevention Office


  • Roger P. Weissberg



  • Youth-Nex Receives $550,00 Grant to Study Racial & Ethnic Inequalities

    Are Peer Networks A Key to Promoting Learning?


  • The Science of How Kids Flourish

    YN Sparks Special Journal Issue



Time Magazine & Christian Science Monitor Feature Youth-Nex Study 

Time Magazine and the Christian Science Monitor both highlighted the Compassionate Schools Project curriculum, which is being implemented in Louisville, Kentucky classrooms.

"Louisville's Experiment: Can Teaching Empathy Boost Math Scores?" 
-Christian Science Monitor

From the Time Magazine article, by Mandy Oaklander

Some Experts Think Mindfulness is the Antidote to Distraction, Misbehaving—Even Poor Math Scores. Are They on to Something?

Christina Johnson’s Classroom must be the most peaceful place at Cane Run Elementary School in Louisville, Ky. Instead of desks, six rows of black yoga mats line the floor. All the lights are off except for one gently glowing lamp. Underwater sounds gurgle from a pair of speakers. Today nearly two dozen fifth-graders are sitting on the mats with their shoes off and eyes closed, following Johnson as she guides them through a relaxation exercise. “Take a nice, nice deep breath in, and keep your hands on your anchors, please,” Johnson says. The kids place one hand on their chest, the other on their belly. Johnson taps a chime and the kids know what to do: listen intently, and when the long reverberation stops, their hands shoot up. “Good job,” Johnson says.
Photo by Luke Sharrett for Time: Fifth-graders flow through yoga-inspired poses in a mindfulness class at a public school in Louisville, KY.

*Time Magazine allows access to the full article only with a subscription here, “The Mindful Classroom,” but you may get the article by contacting Youth-Nex. For this permission, contact: Ellen Daniels

More about CSP in a Letter From the Director, Patrick Tolan

We are excited to mark the first year of a six-year, $11 million randomized control trial, the Compassionate Schools Project, integrating a health and wellness curriculum for elementary students. The research is the most comprehensive ever undertaken of a 21st century health and wellness curriculum in an elementary or secondary school setting and was developed for K-5 students in 25 schools in Louisville, Kentucky.

We have formed a unique collaboration with private philanthropy, two centers at U.Va. (including Youth-Nex), the city of Louisville, and the Jefferson County Public Schools and aim to have a major impact on children’s education nationwide in terms of academic performance, physical education, character development, and child health policies­. I am joined in this work with Youth-Nex faculty members Patricia Jennings and Alexis Harris.

The curriculum was developed with support from the Sonima and Hemera Foundations and the research is supported in part by UVA alumnus Owsley Brown III of Louisville, along with other donors.

It is also important to note that this work could not have been undertaken without the leadership of Louisville mayor, Greg Fischer a dedicated partner of the Charter of Compassion movement.

We look forward to reporting more progress in the coming months. Keep up with this project and other developments on this website and in Youth-Nex newsletters.

-Patrick Tolan
Director, Youth-Nex

More Information on the Project:
Compassionate Schools Project Website

Selected Press Coverage:
TIME Magazine - The Mindful Classroom
VIDEO snapshot of CSP
UVA TODAY - U.Va. Partners with Louisville Schools to Study Health and Wellness Curriculum
The Courier-Journal Compassion in Schools Great Step to Help Kids
NPR - When Teachers Take a Breath, Students Can Bloom
For all News see the CSP NEWS PAGE

YOUTH-NEX  The Center to Promote Effective Youth Development — is a transdisciplinary center promoting healthy youth development, educational attainment and learning. Working across the University, Youth-Nex focuses on the assets of young people and works in a wide variety of areas including health management, civic engagement and education. Youth-Nex also aims to prevent youth problems such as violence, physical and mental health issues, substance abuse and school failure.

Youth-Nex programs of research focus on critical areas of youth development. These programs are multi-investigator, cross-disciplinary systematic research efforts. Each program is led by a U.Va. faculty member possessing substantial experience and expertise. It is our goal to generate new understanding about the most useful practices and appropriate policies in youth development.

Supportive Relationships 

Healthy Lifestyles 

Avoiding Risk

Engaged Citizenship 

Program Evaluation and Community Consultation






Compassionate Schools Project – Project Associate

"Aggressive and Prosocial Behavior in Early Adolescence" - Tabitha Wurster, Ph.D. Audio More

Special Presentation: 12/2/16 - Roger P. Weissberg, Ph.D. - "Enhancing the Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning of Preschool to High School Students Across the United States"

Special Presentation: 2/24/17 - Valerie Maholmes, Ph.D., CAS - "The Science of Hope and Why it Matters for Children and Families in Poverty

Social Justice and Health Equity across the Life Course (click bottom link)

Special Video from the Monticello Event "Memory, Mourning, Mobilization: Legacies of Slavery and Freedom in America"

"Time to Mobilize: Youth Development Scholars and the Movement for Black Lives" by Mimi Arbeit, Ph.D. - Youth-Nex Blog 

The Power of the Internet for Positive Action – What One Little Girl Did to Change Her School

To Gauge the Health of Your Whole Community, Look to Your Teens

Are Kids Getting More Virtuous?

Youth Online - An Interactive Youth Behavior Data Exploration Tool


Interactive Books

Let's Talk After-School e-Book


Physical Health & Well-Being e-Book

Middle School e-Book

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