Engaging Young People with Brain Development and Mindfulness Research

Engaging Young People with Brain Development and Mindfulness Research

The Oxford Mindfulness Centre is launching an innovative programme of activities to engage young people with research into the teenage brain.

The programme, supported by the Wellcome Trust, will give students the chance to develop a better understanding of what happens in the brain during adolescence. Working with researchers, participants will take part in a range of practical activities and interactive experiences. Students will have opportunities to reflect on brain development and how it influences behaviour, emotions, and thinking. They will also gain insight into how research scientists work and contribute to research themselves.

The programme will enhance knowledge of the diverse range of careers in research. It will support young people to engage with research into mindfulness and its potential impact for their lives.

There are three pillars to this work:

  • Working with young people as co-researchers to identify research questions and to contribute to the interpretation of the findings of ongoing projects.
  • Working in schools to deliver a range of interactive workshops and activities on the science of brain development.
  • An innovative programme to develop materials that explore and capture the role of mindfulness in the lives of young people. These will be developed with the input of young people who have been through mindfulness training and who use it in their lives.

As part of the programme, we will be developing a range of resources for teachers and other practitioners to use in the classroom and beyond. The Oxford Mindfulness Centre will also work with young people to help shape the next phase of longitudinal research.

Speaking at the programme launch Professor Willem Kuyken, Co-Principal Investigator said:

“Science is not only about developing new knowledge but also about using that knowledge in ways that are beneficial; taking responsibility for communicating science in balanced and effective ways. This has been a guiding principle for the MYRIAD project throughout. This public engagement collaboration with Catalyst and Gurukula takes a further step, actively engaging schools and young people in all aspects of the project. We’re really excited about this work and look forward to learning from and with some of the young people taking part in our research.”

The project aims to increase young people’s confidence to share their thoughts and ideas with scientists, raise aspirations and contribute to their science capital. A key objective is to raise participants’ awareness of potential career paths in research and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) while also enabling researchers to develop their public engagement skills and experience. Catherine Aldridge (Catalyst Learning and Communication) who are supporting the team alongside Gurukula said:

“We believe the public engagement programme should contribute to people-centred health research and generate lasting impacts beyond those involved in this initial programme.”

The project is being run in collaboration with University College London, Kings College London and the Universities of Cambridge and Exeter. To stay updated about the project you can subscribe to the OMC newsletter by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of our homepage.