MindHacks is a program developed in partnership between the EMBRACE Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, and UPMC Western Behavioral Health. The project is rooted in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and is designed to help middle school students develop a healthy mindset to enhance interpersonal relationships and connectedness, develop effective coping strategies, and improve overall well-being.
The MindHacks video series produced and funded by EMBRACE Pittsburgh consists of short-form “MindHack” videos that feature thoughtful (and fun) coping skills through the eyes of professional athletes from Pittsburgh’s sports teams and beyond. Notable personalities include Corey Graves, WWE; Troy Palomalu, Pittsburgh Steelers; Erin Andrews, NFL Host and former Dancing with the Stars host; Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh Penguins; Jerome Bettis, HOF Pittsburgh Steelers Alumnus, and Colby Armstrong, NHL Analyst and Pittsburgh Penguins Alumnus. These ambassadors and role models discuss emotional conditions, practical tips to address them, and their favorite coping methods.
Each interactive lesson plan utilizes various teaching techniques, including instructional videos, group discussion, games, team-building activities, and practice of relaxation skills. The program maintains a close alignment with the PA Department of Education’s Career Ready Skills Continuum by teaching students self-awareness, relationship skills, and social problem-solving skills. Increasing students’ abilities to develop these skills can lead to future employability.
The prevention model program is designed to reach the mass population of children while additional layers of support are built into the model for any children who are identified as at-risk to ensure supportive intervention. The “train the trainer” program will provide the educator with tools to identify at-risk students and includes a road map for additional support options. Participation in the MindHacks program will assist educators in creating a positive school climate for greater engagement, fewer discipline problems, less bullying, less aggression, and better academic performance.
With the help of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, MindHacks will be distributed to 200 middle school students in the Fall of 2022. The program is projected to roll out to the remainder of Allegheny County Middle School students by Spring 2023 and has the potential to reach 24,000 students across 43 school districts within the county annually. For more information on how MindHacks can be utilized in your school or organization, please reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.