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Three Louisville Schools Add Compassion To Curriculum

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Three Jefferson County Public Schools will be part of a new initiative to teach children how to care for their emotional, mental and physical well-being.

The Compassionate Schools Project will be incorporated into “practical living” periods at Jacob Elementary School, Cane Run Elementary School and Slaughter Elementary.

Students in those schools will learn mindfulness, stress management, contemplative movements such as stretching, nutrition knowledge, and social and emotional skills.

The project was formally launched in Louisville on Thursday at Jacob Elementary School near Manslick Road.

Superintendent Donna Hargens said the project would help students reach their potential and to give back to the community.

“It will teach you things like how to be empathetic, and it will build within you the capacity to self-regulate and to make appropriate choices,” she told Jacob Elementary students.

The project is expected to expand to 25 other schools for the 2016-2017 school year.

The $11 million project is a partnership among JCPS, Louisville Metro government and the University of Virginia. University researchers will study the effects of this kind of curriculum in an elementary school setting.

Patrick Tolan, director of UVA's Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, said this is the first time a curriculum like this has been implemented in a school system. He said the project is a leap toward "21st century health and wellness skills."

"We believe these skills ... will help you not only learn but to also be able to take care of things at home, take care of your family, be good brothers and sisters — and as you grow up, be good at whatever it is you become," Tolan said.

Mayor Greg Fischer the unprecedented project will help increase learning.

“We’re on a mission to make sure that you guys can be everything that you can be, and this program is going to help with that in a very big way,” he told the students.