Richmond, VA

Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Richmond, Virginia has a 'Sankofa Mindfulness Room'

Margaret Minnicks
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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Richmond, Virginia has a Sankofa Mindfulness Room where students gather to learn things that are not typically taught in schools.

The room is ideal for learning. It is designed so that young children can focus on their own awareness. The students learn and build copings skills as well as establish strong relationships with those who are present.

About the Sankofa Mindfulness Room

Ashley Williams, one of the program’s directors at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School says, "Sankofa comes from the African proverb that means ‘go back and fetch it."

Williams also says:

“We prioritize restorative climate and culture to help our students create healthy relationships, to learn tools to take care of themselves, understand who they are; their identities, but to also be successful and resilient in the school environment and in the community.”

Williams concludes that the Sankofa Mindfulness Room is a safe place that gives students the chance to understand their place in the world. She enjoys seeing students light up from the connections they make every day.

Creators of the Sankofa Room

Since the Sankofa Room might be new to the public, creators have much to say about it. They say the room is there for students to become curious and reach outside their own comfort zone. They also get to identify with people different from themselves.

Dr. Ram Bhagat, a former Richmond educator, helped create the Sankofa Room at MLK. He is hoping to spread the practice of mindfulness to other schools around the country, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School is ideal for the Sankofa Room because the school is located at 1000 Mosby Street, Richmond, VA 23223 in the epicenter of five housing projects.

Bhagat says:

“Because of where MLK is located, right in the epicenter of five housing projects where the social determinate of health are ever present and where a person’s zip code can determine their life expectancy, I’m on a mission to help MLK become a national model for urban trauma and healing and restorative justice practices.”

Bhagat, in partnership with the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation (CKG), is sharing his knowledge of cultural sensitivity, along with other mental health advocates in a video tool kit that’s available to schools, resource centers, and individual families.

Chase Herbert, a researcher who contributed to the tool kit program, says the kit is especially powerful in helping students empathize and have compassion for one another, especially in the curated world of social media.

Herbert says:

“I think really focusing on active listening, hearing what the other person is trying to communicate and being able to mindfully reflect on that, is really important to dialogue between two people.”

Clair Norman, marketing director for CKG, states that the tool kit also helps students explore ways in which they are more alike than different.

Visit for more information about the Cultural Sensitivity Tool Kit.

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I love pop culture, movies, television, and entertainment. I keep up to date on the latest movies and television shows. I like sharing news about them. I also like sharing information about different foods and their health benefits. I have been a high school teacher and a college professor for over 50 years and an online writer for over 30 years. I have three degrees: BA in English and Literature, MA in Christian Education, and MDiv in Theology. Get to know me through my writing.

Richmond, VA

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