“The pressure that a child feels is the worst part of school,” says Goldie Hawn. Giving kids a strategy to handle that strain and to perform well in class is the reason the Hawn Foundation created MindUp, a program that teaches children social- and emotional-learning skills to help them focus their energies on academics.
Shortly after 9/11, Hawn began working with experts — scientists, cognitive psychologists and educators — to develop what in 2003 became a 15-lesson curriculum. “I didn’t want to be the celebrity that came in with an idea. I wanted it to prove itself,” Hawn says.
“Nobody was truly looking at the mental health of our children, and how we could create the best situation for them.”
MindUp includes teaching children problem-solving and helping them to see others’ perspectives in order to reduce tendencies for bullying and aggression. It nurtures feelings of well-being to create classroom environments that maximize a child’s ability to succeed intellectually.
The program has been steadily growing for 10 years, and has helped more than 400,000 children. On Nov. 21, the foundation will host its inaugural fundraising gala — Goldie’s Love-in for Kids — with a host committee that includes Ron Burkle, Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth, Paula Wagner and Rick Nicita, Kelly and Ron Meyer, Kate Hudson and Matthew Bellamy, Martin Short, Rashida Jones, and Carole Bayer Sager and Bob Daly.
MindUp works in partnership with schools, youth centers and hospitals, among others, and Hawn notes that each program costs about $10,000. It provides teachers with the tools and instructional materials they need to help children ease their stress to better achieve Common Core academic standards.
Hawn’s aim is to deliver the curriculum to all those who request it. To that end, she’s also working with the National Education Assn. and change-makers in Washington, D.C., to secure the program’s future.
“You can’t take a child who’s stressed and asked them to learn,” Hawn says.