Impact & Research

Our Outcomes

Walking students and teachers along the path from “surviving” to “thriving.”

Students and teachers regularly share the positive impact of Inner Strength, from better focus and concentration, improved anger management and stress reduction, and better learning and academic performance.

In addition to anecdotal reports, we have seven years of quantitative evidence from Syracuse University’s research, measuring how the Inner Strength Teen Program leads to statistically significant improvements in these areas:

Metrics Driven
Peer Reviewed Results

Since 2015, the impact of our program has been evaluated and measured by Dr. Rachel Razza, a leading researcher from Syracuse University on the impact of mindfulness and yoga programs in educational settings. Using several different industry-standard measures, Inner Strength has consistently shown positive impact on students, year after year.

Read about the positive results of Inner Strength program in these peer-reviewed journals:

The benefits of mindfulness for promoting resilience among at-risk adolescents: Results from the Inner Strength Teen Program

published April 6, 2021 in ECNU Review of Education. Razza, R. A., Bergen-Cico, D., Reid, S., & Linsner Uveges, R.

Mechanisms of Change Underlying Mindfulness-Based Practice Among Adolescents

published April 26, 2022 in Mindfulness. Zhang, Y., Razza, R., Wang, Q., Bergen-Cico, D., & Liui, Q.

Syracuse University
Shows Statistically Significant Improvement

Starting in 2015, Syracuse University began multi-year research study to determine the impact of the Inner Strength Teen Program on its high school participants. The scales chosen measure quantifiable improvements in several key metrics: Self Regulation, Self Compassion, and Perceived Stress.

Teen mindfulness research studies showing improvement in self regulation give a quantifiable way to tell if – as a result of training or intervention – students are better able to manage their emotions, desires, fears, frustrations. Improvements indicate that kids are able to postpone short term reactivity for longer term results. They are better able to keep their focus when the environment around them is attempting to pull their attention away from the task at hand.

Among those students in the Inner Strength Teen Program who were tracked for 12-weeks with pre- and post tests, a statistically significant percentage showed measurable improvement both in self regulation and in self compassion (the perceived stress index was introduced following these results, reports will be available in 2019). The results to date are very encouraging, confirming the anecdotal reports from teachers, principals, and the students themselves.

To further study the effects of the program, and to continue to improve the curriculum, the study has be expanded and will continue for another year.

Access the researchers’ writeup of their findings to date here.

mindfulness for teens

Excerpt from the ECNU Review of Education, April 2021, Drs. Razza, Bergen-Cico et al.

“Evaluation of the high school program found statistically significant improvements (p< .05) in long-term self-regulation and self compassion. The researchers are continuing to conduct evaluative research with children participating in the Inner Strength Program in grades 10-12.”

teaching mindfulness to teens

Researcher Bios

Rachel Razza, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on self-regulation in children and youth. Specifically, her work explores contextual predictors of self-regulation, and implications of various self-regulatory skills for children’s school readiness and later school success. Her recent work examines mindful yoga as an intervention strategy to enhance these skills among children. Dr. Razza teaches courses on child development and developmental theory and serves as the Graduate Director and coordinator for the Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies minor.

Dessa Bergen-Cico, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health at Syracuse University, a Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS), and is a Certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher. She teaches and conducts research on the efficacy of mindfulness-based practices for fostering self-regulation among children and adults, reducing trait anxiety, reducing posttraumatic stress, and prevention of addictive behaviors. She is also the author of the book War and Drugs: The Role of Military Conflict in the Development of Substance Abuse.

Dr. Razza and Bergen-Cico have been collaborating as independent evaluators of mindfulness-based interventions for children and youth since 2012. Their research has examined the effectiveness of multiple mindful yoga programs for children from preschool through middle school as well as mindfulness-based curricula for high school students. Collectively, their work has highlighted the benefits of these programs for aspects of children’s self-regulation as well as related socioemotional competencies including empathy and compassion.
The following is a partial list of publications Dr. Bergen-Cico and Dr. Razza have written on the efficacy of yoga and mindfulness-based practices.

— Bergen-Cico, D., Razza, R., & Timmins, A. (2015) Fostering mindfulness and self-regulation through curriculum infusion of mindful yoga: a pilot study of efficacy and feasibility. Journal of Child and Family Studies. Online First. 1-14. doi 10.1007/s10826-015-0146-2

— Razza, R. Bergen-Cico, D.K. & Raymond, K. (2015) Enhancing preschoolers’ self-regulation via mindful yoga. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(2); 372-385. doi.org/10.1007/ s10826-013-9847-6

— Bergen-Cico, D, & Cheon, S. (2014) Mediating role of mindfulness and self-compassion in reducing trait anxiety. Mindfulness. 5(5) 505-519. doi:10.1007/s12671-013-0205-y

Bergen-Cico, D, Possemato, K. & Cheon, S. (2013) Examining the efficacy of a brief mindfulness based stress reduction (Brief MBSR) program on psychological health. Journal of American College Health. 61(6) 348-360.

To find our more details about our
ongoing research, contact us.

“Our students have very busy schedules full of honors and AP courses, sports, and extracurricular activities. Through the Inner Strength mindfulness program, students learn positive and effective techniques that can help them deal more effectively with the stress that accompanies a busy academic, extracurricular and social life. We appreciate the opportunity to offer our students science verified techniques for dealing with stress as they learn to respond more thoughtfully to situations and stressors rather than react in the moment in less appropriate ways.”
Kate Smith
Teacher, Sponsor Robotics & Mathematics Teams, Julia Masterman Demonstration High School
“Many students who took part in the program learned to relax, gain perspective on their thoughts, and reclaim patience in times of stress. Many seemed eager to practice at home during periods of frustration, during exam time, or when work piled up. They expressed that they had learned a way to calm down and think first instead of reacting.”
Richard Weiss
Athletic Director & Health Teacher, Central High School


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