Jul 9, 2014
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You’ve got to check out Katie Couric’s interview with JG Laurochette, who founded the Richmond nonprofit Mindful Life Project.

The interview took place last month but aired Tuesday afternoon.

Laurochette explained to Couric that as a third-grade teacher in the rougher parts of Richmond, he began to internalize a lot of the problems his students were enduring. To deal with anxiety and depression, Laurochette found mindfulness through practices such as yoga.

“I tried it with my students after three weeks,” he said. “If it works for me, it’s gotta work for my kids.”

So two years ago, Laurochette started the Mindful Life Project, a grassroots nonprofit that teaches mindfulness, yoga, therapeutic art and hip-hop and performing arts to elementary students in underserved schools.

Laurochette said the school district initially resisted the idea, but has now been won over by the nonprofit.

“You see it when you see them sit silently for 10 to 15 minutes; you see it in their ways of responding to situations instead of reacting; we’re seeing that kids are creating a way of navigating their difficult experiences, to understanding and having an awareness of their emotions, understanding an awareness of their thoughts, and creating space between a stimulus and their response instead of a reaction.”

One of the Mindful Life Project’s teachers, known as JustMe, said he helps kids change the lyrics to hip hop songs to reflect mindfulness. In front of Couric’s national audience, JustMe performed rapper Kendrick Lamar’s hit song Swimming Pools with new lyrics focused on positivity.

Also, one of the Mindful Life Project’s students and his mother appeared in the segment. The student’s older brother was killed in 2012, and after losing him he was devastated and struggled to manage his feelings and was having difficulty with anger. The student said getting involved with Mindful Life really helped him manage his emotions.

The student just learned he scored the highest academically in his class this year, Laurochette said.

“It helped me pay attention to the present moment,” the student said. “It helped me grab my anger, put it back inside of me and keep it there a while.”

To view the whole Couric interview, visit here.

The 3-minute introduction below offers a great summary of the work the Mindful Life Project is doing in Richmond:


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.