Background and Purpose:
ZenCity was created to give parents and students resources to meet today’s unique life challenges. ZenCity combines the best parenting practices of our parents and grandparents with innovative new ideas backed by research. We will utilize a mind, body and spirit connection to help families safely reach their greatest potential. ZenCity puts this information in one place so as a community collaboration of parents, youth, churches and schools we can come together to learn new concepts, and share what we know and what has worked for us. In a time of tight budget constraints on our schools we hope to collaborate with administration to support their needs in new and unique ways with our specialized programs designed to help youth thrive. Our information and resources will grow as our numbers grow.
Why start ZenCity now? We live in a unique and special time. We want to understand and honor the world our children live in, while at the same time find ways to help them safely navigate it. While technology has brought many amazing advances, it also has a downside. Times have changed rapidly. Just 10 years ago it was rare to find a teenager younger than 16 with a cell phone, now the entry age is 11. Just 5 years ago many families had a 2 hour screen time for their children, now that is considered a light day. We’ve all seen the groups of teens sitting in groups at restaurants, parties and on their living room couches side by side not talking to each other, but with heads bent texting or using social media.
Our young people’s reliance on texting and social media instead of real human interaction is identified as a key factor in our near crisis state of teen anxiety. A UCLA report states that incoming freshman are at all-time lows in overall mental health and emotional stability. Psychologist, Robert Leahy points out, “The average high school student today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.” Generations before us had to adjust with the social changes created by the introduction of cars, television, and later computers. Today it is a variety of screens, primarily cell phones, and all that comes with them, such as cameras, texting and social media. While the previous changes were impactful, technology today is coming at such a rapid pace that it feels as if it has brought a tidal wave of change and we are struggling to catch up. It can be so overwhelming that we shut down and don’t address the challenges.
Another key factor in the advent of cell phones is that it has radically changed face to face communication. Social media and texting has created a more confrontational style of communication than we have had in past generations. Also, young adults are seeing the necessity of taking classes in face to face communication so they can be successful in a multi-generational workforce. Our hope is that ZenCity will help us all make progress with our children and help them navigate successfully and respectfully through these societal changes.
We are a non-profit whose mission is help young people, pause, connect and succeed through social emotional intelligence (SEI). Research shows a strong link between high SEI and lifelong academic, relationship and career success. We want to give young people the best chance possible to thrive, today and in the future. The name ZenCity connotes a calm, peaceful space where social and emotional learning can best take root.
Pause - When young people learn to pause, give their minds a rest and reflect rather than act out of anxiety, they create a strong foundation for creativity, problem solving and hope. Mindfulness is a proven tool to aid in this goal. Unplugging and putting down our phones is another mental break that can be powerful.
Connect - Developing emotional intelligence is a positive way to connect internally and with others. Those who can harness this powerful skill are the top leaders and contributors of today and tomorrow.
Succeed - The goal of ZenCIty is to help each young person find their own definition of success through developing strong SEI skills.