Program Review: Cultivating Resilience with MindUp

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Xiang Yi Yong, Psychologist, LIH Olivia's Place Beijing

XiangYi Yong, Psychologist, LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing

In the 21st century, our children and young people are exposed to various stressors in their daily lives. Due to globalization, young people experience rapid changes in their environment following the advancement of science and technology, fast pace of life, and tight competition among their peers, which means that those who are more susceptible to stress and anxiety experience absolute and constant negative emotions. However, at the same time, a lot of these young people do not have adequate skills to cope with stress and anxiety. As a result, these conditions deter them from focusing during learning, which negatively affects their academic performance. Additionally, lack of effective stress coping skills can contribute to poor self-control, which potentially results in various behavioral problems, such as physical disputes with others or compulsive shopping. Ineffective coping with stress and anxiety can also later result in various types of psychological dysfunction, for example, over- or under- eating, substance abuse, or mood disorders. These issues not only have a detrimental effect on young people’s general health and daily functioning, but also the quality of their relationships with people around them.


There are various programs and curricula to equip our next generation with resources to cope with challenges. One of these programs is MindUp™, which was created by the Hawn Foundation in the United States. It is grounded in four prominent components in the field of psychology and learning: mindfulness, neuroscience, positive psychology, and social and emotional learning. MindUp™ applies a distinctive integration of these four pillars to build personal resilience in children and young people, which is a quality that is key to thriving in today’s world. MindUp™ aims to encourage positive behavior, enhance learning and academic performance, and improve relationships with self and others in young people. It consists of 15 lessons for children and young people from preschool to grade 8, customized according to age group and developmental level. These lessons can be fully integrated into school culture, such as in between the usual academic lessons, after-school activities, and holiday camp. Furthermore, the MindUp™ curriculum can be adapted by psychotherapists or counselors for their youth clients during therapy sessions, and trained parents for their own children at home.


MindUp™ offers an immersive exploratory experience together with daily core practices. One of these instances is the guided “Brain Break” breathing exercise, which can be best practiced during any transition of activities in daily life as a way to enhance emotional and behavioral stability, and increase receptivity towards new information. Extended from the four pillars, examples of topics that children and young people will learn from MindUp™ include:

  • Understanding brain structures and functions, especially those involved in focused attention and behavioral and emotional regulation
  • Having mindful awareness of various sensations and movements
  • Taking perspectives of others, practicing optimism and gratitude
  • Taking mindful, grateful, and kind actions towards others

MindUp™ activities are conducted in experiential and youth-friendly ways. These include:

  • Hands-on activities with lively instruction to invite young people to explore their inner experiences (e.g., body sensation, feelings, thoughts), and their surroundings (e.g., what they see, what they hear)
  • Information learning with the help of visual arts (e.g., colorful flow charts, videos, models)
  • Daily practice learning by following teachers/instructors’ modeling and coaching
  • Age-appropriate discussion that involves problem solving, decision making, and conflict resolution processes
  • Home activities and journaling


MindUp™ is an evidence-based program that has been accredited by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). It is also recommended by established governmental bodies to assist children and young people’s development, such as the National Institute of Justice (US). Research has shown that MindUp™:

  • Reinforces passion in learning
  • Increases academic success with improvement in attention, planning, and organization skills
  • Enhances self-control and self-regulation skills, and decreases aggression and antisocial behavior
  • Builds resiliency and decision making
  • Strengthens self-concept and self-esteem
  • Decreases conflict with peers
  • Improves positive social skills, such as empathy, compassion, patience, kindness, and generosity
  • Infuses optimism and gratitude

Despite the fact that research was conducted in the US, UK, and Canada, rather than in Asian countries like China, Chinese children and young people would potentially obtain similar benefits from MindUp™. This is due to the flexibility of its curriculum, which can be adapted in different contexts, and the shared and consistent concepts between MindUp™ and Chinese culture. The core concept of mindfulness- living in the present moment, originated from Confucianism and this concept still appears in current educational syllabi, despite the fact that it is practiced less now in daily life. The main concepts and elements of positive psychology, such as gratitude and creating positive relationships with others, are other important elements emphasized in Chinese tradition and culture. For the pillar of neuroscience, the universality of brain physiology and functions are undeniable. Therefore, the materials and research results relevant to neuroscience can be applied equally to Chinese children and young people. In terms of social and emotional learning, it is understandable that differences exist in emotional expression and social interaction among different cultures, which makes MindUp™ challenging to be completely applicable for Chinese young people. However, initial research has showed that with appropriate adaptation of the curriculum by taking Chinese cultures and lifestyles into consideration, a mindfulness program like MindUp™ can cultivate resilience in Chinese youth.


LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing is currently offering an adapted MindUp™ program for schools and in our clinic. For more information, please contact Michelle Wang at 13522341845 or Xiang Yi Yong:

Clinician Profile: Speech Therapist Peng Bo

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pengbo (3)Peng Bo, who also goes by Daniel, is a Speech Therapist at LIH Olivia’s Place in Beijing.

Mr. Peng obtained a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Medicine from Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine in 2012. He has a rehabilitation therapist certificate, rehabilitation doctor certificate, and medical college teacher qualification certificate. He completed speech therapist training at the China Rehabilitation Research Center for Hearing and Speech in 2014. He completed his clinical study at Jiamusi University Children’s Rehabilitation Center and completed speech-language therapist teacher training in Shanghai and Guangzhou. Daniel has experience in teaching and clinical work, and has provided both assessment and treatment for children with various diagnoses, including autism, ADHD, and swallowing and eating disorders. His research interests have focused on the development of cognitive and verbal potential of children with cerebral palsy and autistic spectrum disorders. Peng Bo speaks Mandarin Chinese and English.


How long have you been in China?

I was born here, raised here, and received of my education here too. I got my medical master’s degree in Harbin, and obtained a rehabilitation physician qualification in 2012 and therapist qualification in 2014.


Why did you choose to work at LIH Olivia’s Place?

 I love to work with kids with special needs, and want to learn more about different professionals that also work with the same population.  Apart from this, I enjoy working in groups where we can exchange our expertise and learn new tools and information. In my job today, team work is still one of the most important work values for me. Also, I like attending conferences where we can get good feedback on our works, meet new people, and old friends.


Why did you choose your field?

I decided to get my degree in rehabilitation medicine because it is something that has always come naturally to me. I chose to be a speech therapist because I wanted to help children and parents by teaching them about speech, feeding, and articulation/phonology.  As an exercise rehabilitation/speech major, I’m looking forward to putting my clinical skills and communication abilities to work in addition to all that I’ve learned from my courses. I have always enjoyed spending time with children with cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorder and when I am in the therapy room I do not feel like I am working because I love being there! I feel my effective listening and patience really helps me connect with kids.


What are some of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your chosen profession?

Children with autism spectrum disorder all have something important to say, but they can’t express themselves as well or as easily as other children. Our professional knowledge helps parents and caregivers learn powerful strategies for helping a child communicate to the best of his ability. As a speech therapist, I can help parents decide which approaches could benefit their child.


What’s your favorite thing about living working at LIH Olivia’s Place?

What excites me about my work at LIH Olivia’s Place is great inter-disciplinary work. I enjoy the people with whom I work. It is a friendly and fun atmosphere and I actually enjoy going into work each morning. I feel the leadership team is great as well. I also enjoy that fact that we do community outreach with local organizations.  The best LIH Olivia’s Place medical services help Chinese children. When you love your job you will be better motivated, more enthusiastic, and productive.


What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

Five years from now, I would like to see myself in a speech therapist position.  I’m going to be learning and gaining practical experience until then, but eventually, I want to become one of the most excellent speech therapists in China.  I know there are a lot of things to learn, but I’m going to be working hard for the next five years.  I believe opportunities come to great workers and I’m going to try to be one of them

Clinician Profile, Tiffany Johnson, Learning Support Specialist

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Tiffany Johnson, Learning Support Specialist, Beijing

Tiffany Johnson, Learning Support Specialist, Beijing

Tiffany is an American Learning Support Specialist at LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing. She graduated from Widener University with dual certified in Elementary Education and Special Education in 2013. She has been teaching Pre-Kindergarten to 5th Grade Students for 6 years. She has 4 years of experience working with students with special needs, including students with severe disabilities and behavioral disorders. Tiffany has training in Applied Behavioral Analysis and is knowledgeable about autism spectrum disorders, as well as interventions, tools, assessments, and strategies to accommodate students with a range of abilities. She has experience modifying lessons to create ideal learning opportunities for each student to help them succeed. Tiffany speaks English.



How long have you been in China?

I have been in China for a little over 2 years.

Why did you choose to work at LIH Olivia’s Place?

Being licensed in Special Education in China is tough. The awareness and acceptance for students with disabilities is so low that you encounter students who you know need help not get it due to the stigma or lack of knowledge about it. When I found out about LIH Olivia’s place I knew I had to be a part of it. Finally, I thought, there is a place that is spreading the word, a place that is facilitating getting so many students the help, interventions, and tools they need to become successful. I was excited to hear about the upcoming programs and to be able to give input as someone who is on the front-lines in the classroom.

Why did you choose your field?

I knew I wanted to teach after I had one of the best fourth grade teachers. She told me I could do anything, be anything, and gave me hope when the surrounding environment was close to bleak and not so promising. I knew that I wanted to be able to do that for others, to give hope through the value of education. Showing students that being willing to learn about the world and themselves could take them so many places and is a wonderful gift. In regard to special education I fell into the field accidentally and those unique students took hold of my heart. I yearned to learn more about how to help those students be successful in any type of environment regardless of level of ability. I enjoy it and the opportunity it gives me to continue to learn and grow as a professional.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your profession?

As a teacher I am lucky to have many extremely rewarding experiences. Every time I see a struggling student pass a test, or when I have a high achiever get accepted to a tough program, but I can recall one that will always stay with me.  I worked at an educational institution for students with severe behavioral and physical disabilities. I often took the students on trips in the community and the ratio was 2:1 or 1:1. I was assigned to two 20-year-old young men. They were the epitome of perseverance. They were both classified as dangerous and could severely hurt me if over stimulated or stressed. They never once showed aggression toward me so I asked to always be assigned to them for outings. One day I took them to the store to work through an “Activity of Daily Living goal,” they had to find items on a list. In one of the aisles one of the young men got very excited by a Disney character on a box; he began jumping, clapping, and yelling loudly, which were usually signs of behavior before he would become overstimulated and aggressive. Some of the patrons of the store looked worriedly our way and wanted to get help as my student was very tall and pretty stocky. I began jumping with him as I knew how much he enjoyed Disney characters and hoped to keep the store from calling others to the aisle, which would have negatively impacted him.  I told him that if he completed his goal properly I would get the item with the Disney character for him as a gift; he calmed down and hugged me and picked me up while hugging me. We finished his goal and walked to the counter. The cashier pulled me aside and told me that it was the most amazing thing she has seen. She said that before that point if she would have seen a person like my student she would have stared and walked away quickly but after seeing how I interacted with him and how he is just another person who likes what he likes, she now has an actual experience to refer to rather than an assumption. My students and I thanked her and gave her high fives. I took pride in know that he changed her perception; not someone telling her what she should think but rather getting the opportunity to see it firsthand. I think it is our job as educators to give our students a chance to prove themselves, think for themselves, and discover their own potential, teaching them to become their own mouthpiece while showing them the path so they can facilitate their own success.

What’s your favorite thing about living in China and working at LIH Olivia’s Place?

My favorite thing about working in China is the opportunity to expose more and more people to an African American educator as well as continue to open the minds of so many people who are not aware of the helpfulness and benefits of Special Education and intervention. I hope to contribute toward removing its stigma and getting more people help in an open and accepting environment. In the area I live in Beijing, I have seen no other African Americans. My students have never encountered someone like me nor have their parents. I have been able to educate them about my ethnicity and let them know that I am an educated individual who is here to provide a quality education for their children. It has been a challenge to overcome some of the misconceptions and racism but it pushes me to become better and shows me that what I am doing is very necessary.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

In 5 years I hope to be finished with my master’s degree and maybe start a family. I hope to take my experiences through traveling in Asia and maybe elsewhere to the United States to begin exposing American students to the world around them which is also so needed.

Beijing Training Event: How to Guide Parents to Get Good Care

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LIH Olivia’s Place is delighted to announce that our new Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Director, Dr. Susan Cadzow is starting with us this month! Dr. Cadzow has more than 20 years of experience in the field including nearly six years of experience working as the only international developmental and behavioral pediatrician in mainland China at Shanghai United Family where she was from 2010 until now. She will be seeing patients in Beijing every other week starting the week of 25 April 2016.


To introduce Dr. Cadzow to the Beijing international school community and Beijing healthcare providers and give her an opportunity to share some of her experience a complimentary training event will be offered on  evening of Wednesday, 27 April  2016.


Children with Developmental Behavioral Problems: How to Guide Parents to Get Good Care

This event is designed for teachers and school nurses at international schools as well as other healthcare professionals  to help provide guidance and tips on how to help parents get the services and help they need for their children when they find out their child has development behavioral problems.

DATE:  Wednesday, April 27

TIME: 5:00 pm to 6:30pm

LOCATION: Beijing LIH Olivia’s Place Pediatric Clinic 北京长和大蕴儿科诊所

13 Jiu Xian Qiao Road, Building 6-1, 2nd Floor, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

中国北京市朝阳区酒仙桥路13号6-1楼2层 邮编:100016


Light sandwiches and soft drinks will be provided.


Please RSVP to by Monday, 25 April  2016. Please call John Giszczak at +86 135 1100 6282  if you have questions or if you have difficulty finding our clinic when you arrive. Our entrance is on the southwest side of the Orange Crystal Hotel. We are on the second story of the hotel’s building, but have our own separate entrance on the side of the building.

Beijing Clinical Team Gives Generously in Their Community

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In the last three months of 2015, the clinical team at LIH Olivia’s Place in Beijing contributed an amazing amount of time and skill to pro bono work. Here we provide some brief statistics to help give you an idea of their dedication to the communities we serve:


Speech and Language Therapy

  • The speech-language team, led by Chelsey Contillo, provided 16 hours of direct therapy to children from Bethel, including Yu Lin, as seen in the photo below.
    Chelsey Contillo, SLP, Beijing, with YuLin

    Chelsey Contillo, SLP, Beijing, with YuLin

    LIH Olivia's Place Beijing Speech  Therapist Peng Bo works with a child from Bethel

    LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing Speech Therapist Peng Bo works with a child from Bethel

    PB TTY + WY Bethel


  • They also provided an on-site training on early language development to the therapy and ‘house’ ayis at Shepherd’s Field, followed by 4 evaluations for new children. Thanks to Frangie Yan, Client Care Coordinator, and Speech Therapists PengBo and Tessie for their great input to this day. The feedback from Shepherd’s Field was overwhelmingly positive and they are hoping to have Chelsey and team back again for more training and therapy in the new year.


Physical Therapy

  • The PT team, consisting only of Marc Innerhofer, provided 10 hours of direct therapy to a young boy from Morning Star, who is reported to be making great progress under Marc’s guidance. Marc also managed to provide another 12 hours of direct therapy at the clinic to children from Shepard’s Field.


Occupational Therapy    

  • OT Eva Ma, alongside PT Marc Innerhofer, provided another 12 hours of direct therapy in a multidisciplinary approach to a group of 4 children in total, with assistance from OT Jessie.  Shepard’s Field was so impressed with our team that they even featured them in their own newsletter!!
    Marc Innerfhofer (PT) and Eva Ma (OT) with children from Shepherd's Field at LIH Olivia's Place Beijing

    Marc Innerfhofer (PT) and Eva Ma (OT) with children from Shepherd’s Field at LIH Olivia’s Place Beijing

  • Eva also gavetime to travel all the way to Jinningnan in Inner Mongolia to visit a welfare center with which we have developed a strong partnership. She spent a day there, with translation and assistance from TingTing Yan, Junior Occupational Therapist, to see a number of children. They travelled there and back on the night train and Eva still managed to come to work the next day!!
  • Occupational Therapist Sorcha Ni Chadhain (assisted by Occupational Therapists TingTing and Tessie) provided another 16 hours of direct therapy to children from Bethel. Some children were seen in a very effective multi-disciplinary approach alongside the speech team, while others received individual input.



SO……..that’s a total of:

66 hours of direct therapy!!!!!!

1 full day Speech and Language Training

1 full Occupational Therapy consultation

2 very long train rides

and a large number of happy children and carers!

ABA Services Lead Our Beijing Learning & Behavior Support Offerings

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Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), originally developed in the United States in the 1970s, has become one of the most widely-used interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder, as well as a number of other conditions and behavior-related concerns. ABA is an intensive approach to teaching children to improve socially significant behaviors. We are delighted to announce that Ms. Pengsi Shen has joined us in Beijing to deliver ABA based on the latest research from the United States in this field. Pengsi, originally from Hunan province, first worked as an ABA assistant in China and then attended Columbia University in New York, US to study ABA. She graduated with a Master’s degree in ABA and successfully passed her Board Certified Behavioral Analyst examination (BCBA), one of the highest credentials in the field of ABA. She is now one of only three only four people in mainland China to hold this credential. Pengsi is available for assessments, therapy, consultations, and training. Pengsi is the first member of a Beijing Learning & Behavior Support team that will be able to provide intervention in the clinic and in children’s natural environments, for children and families with a wide range of needs from early intervention to services for school-aged children.