Delaware Changing Lives2018-11-16T06:12:01+00:00

Delaware Changing Lives

GIFT Founder and President Sam Beard was on hand when Delaware Governor John Carney signed an executive order making Delaware a trauma-informed state. The goal of the effort is to coordinate public and private services for Delaware families, especially as it relates to ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) in order to build resilience in children, adults and communities.

Trauma mitigation is an important part of the bigger picture of Delaware Changing Lives, the coalition GIFT has promoted to serve as a model for social innovation and change utilizing mindfulness technologies.

Back row left to right: Cerron Cade (Secretary of Labor),
Dorrell Green (Director of Innovation and Improvement, Delaware Department of Education),
Sam Beard (Founder and President, GIFT),
Leslie Brower (Project Director at Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health)
Second row: Perry Phelps (Commissioner of Corrections),
Renee Beaman (Director of Delaware Division of State Service Cneters), Bethany Hall-Long (Lieutenant Governor),
Tracey Quillen Carney (First Lady of Delaware)
Front: Governor John Carney

I personally believe that mindfulness is really important for children, particularly children dealing with incredible stress in their lives.

-Delaware Governor, John Carney


As we take major, public steps forward in Delaware in our commitment to new trauma-informed, mindfulness, and stress management systems, we also have an opportunity to celebrate our successes – large and small – changing lives. Brain research has ushered in an era of greater understanding and increased science-based approaches to stress and trauma management, education, mental health, and healthcare.

Delaware is the first state that is setting up a statewide delivery system that is affordable and self-sustaining. Delaware is developing the model for the country. U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Governor John Carney and First Lady Tracey Carney, plus Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long are among public servants who are supporting this collaborative approach to advance strength-based systems encompassing trauma recovery, social emotional learning (SEL), and mindfulness/stress-reduction training.

Mindfulness and meditation are not just about feeling more focused and relaxed in our hectic lives. Delaware Changing Lives is conclusively demonstrating how these technologies are giving renewed hope to thousands struggling with trauma, abuse, addiction, anxiety and depression, plus a host of other stress-related problems.

Launched in early 2017, Delaware Changing Lives is the vision of legendary public servant Sam Beard and mental health counselor Dr. James Walsh to demonstrate the significant societal benefits when science-based mindfulness technologies are systematically integrated into all major public and private sectors of a locality.

If you asked me five years ago about the value of meditation, I would have been skeptical. Having had the experience of knowing a Marine veteran where it made a big difference and what I’ve heard from other veterans, I’m a strong advocate.

-US Senator Chris Coons


We can see lives being changed in action thanks to Rupert Hitzig, a film producer and director with a host of major motion pictures to his credit. Click below to see a preview of some of the incredible stories Rupert has captured. Rupert has caught up with and interviewed dozens of people in Delaware who have heartwarming stories detailing the impact of mindfulness training in their lives and those around them.

The leadership of GIFT and their work to bring mindfulness into our schools and communities has already had a huge impact toward improved mental health in our state.Working together, imagine what we can do…the lives we can change.

-Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long

Here are some accomplishment highlights to date:


In just 8 months, GIFT has trained nearly 1000 school personnel throughout Delaware through its collaboration with ompassionate Schools Initiative with support from the Governor and First Lady, the Department of Education and the Delaware State Education Association. Working from a base of four school districts at present, GIFT anticipates expansion between 40 and 60 schools over the next 5 years, brining the benefits of having a mindful classroom to over 40,000 Delaware students.


GIFT has developed a multi-tier, mindfulness training program with the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.  To date, more than 600 people in the mental health system in Delaware including both mental health providers and consumers have gone through the training.  Over 10,000 Delawareans suffering from mental and emotional disorders have had their lives touched by GIFT-provided mindfulness training.  Over the next 5 years, the program will be expanded to 3000 mental health providers impacting more than 75,000 patients.


Dr. Jenna Tedesco has led a nationwide movement to standardize mindfulness training treatment at VA Hospitals based on the MBSR curriculum developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of MA Centre for Mindfulness.  At the Wilmington VA alone over 1,500 veterans have participated in mindfulness training with tremendous results.  GIFT is working with the DE National Guard, DE Veterans Coalition, the Mindfulness Veterans Connection, and the DE Interfaith Veterans Workgroup to promote these programs and identify veterans seeking these services.  GIFT is working to supply 5-8 mindfulness trainers to work with groups for the next 5 years, including “vanguards” (veterans who can teach other veterans).


GIFT has provided training at no or low cost to the Boys & Girls Clubs personnel throughout the state.  In addition, GIFT has worked with Delaware’s 4H, the Mental Health Association, the Delaware Association of Volunteer Administrators, Limen House, and Community in Schools in Delaware   Over the past year, 200 helping professionals and volunteers at these organizations have been trained in mindfulness skills.

I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who have been leading thetrauma-informed care effort, by whatever name, for a long time. Now, we need to build on the foundation they have worked so hard to provide - to develop a statewide approach to care that builds on the strengths of every child, every family, and every community.

-First Lady Tracey Guillen Carney

Delaware’s First Lady, Tracey Quillen Carney has launched her First Chance Delaware initiative with a special focus on childhood hunger, early language skills toward school readiness, and responding effectively to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

It is my dream to see behavioral therapists in every school so that mindfulness is part of the curriculum as is English, Arts and Mathematics. It makes miracles. Try it.

Dr. Carlton Lampkins. On the front line daily with at-risk inner city kids with trauma. Chair of the Board of Communities in Schools.

I had a student this summer who struggles with a hugely distracted environment at home. His brother was shot at eighteen years old. He came to me. I asked, ‘What can I do for you?’ He said, ‘Please breathe with me.’ I held him so tight. ‘You’re safe here with me right now. Keep breathing. I love you’.

Dina Evans. Mt. Pleasant Elementary School Teacher

I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who have been leading the trauma-informed care effort, by whatever name, for a long time. Now, we need to build on the foundation they have worked so hard to provide - to develop a statewide approach to care that builds on the strengths of every child, every family, and every community.

-First Lady Tracey Guillen Carney

Wisdom and calmness. Love and compassion. Oh, my God. Happy. I am so happy to have this.

Olivia M Soleil, Therapist, Delaware Center for Conscious Living

When I really need to center, I make sure I take a deep breath in and out.

Rabbi Michael Beals, Congregation Beth Shalom

Watch for an announcement concerning a public launch event for Delaware Changing Lives in the coming weeks.

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