The Hawn Foundation

The Hawn Foundation

If, like me, you were introduced to Goldie Hawn through “Laugh-In,” a television comedy show featuring continuous jokes, gags, skits, and Hawn as the “sock-it-to-me” girl, you may not know of her skills as an Academy Award-winning actress, film producer, and director.

And even if you know of these accomplishments, you may not know of Hawn’s other passion as a philanthropist and child advocate.  Ten years ago, she created The Hawn Foundation with a mission to:  “improve overall well-being of children, youth, and adults by equipping them with vital social and emotional literacy skills needed to navigate 21st century challenges so they may lead smart, healthy, happier lives with greater engagement in learning, work, and life.”

Perhaps the most moving motivation for her work, Hawn notes, were the following statistics:

  • according to UNICEF, children in the U.S. are the second least happy children in the world(after the United Kingdom)
  • up to 20% of teens suffer from problems such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD), according to the U.S. Public Health Service
  • children as young as 3 years old are being diagnosed with depression, and up to 1 in 8 teens suffer from depression
  • over the last 10 years, prescriptions for medications to treat emotional disorders in girls has increased 68% and boys has increased 30%
  • since the 1950s, suicides among adolescents have quadrupled; suicide is now the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24-year olds, and 6th leading cause of death for 5-14-year-olds
  • in one study, 2/3 of fourth-graders agreed with the statement “I am happy with life;” and by 7thgrade, only  1/3

Working with research and experts, the foundation created MindUP, its evidence-based curriculum and educator training that has proven to increase student engagement while aligning with Department of Education academic standards.  Its overall approach, based on what is termed “positive psychology,” not only improves academic performance, but also advances child well-being, reduces stress, improves concentration, assists in emotional regulation, and fosters happiness, empathy, and optimism.

Educational workshops and training tools have been created specifically for families, for special needs, for teachers, and for school districts.  Youth service organizations have worked with the foundation to develop after-school program lessons, all working to improve children’s “social-emotional intelligence,” or Emotional Quotient (EQ), which has proven to be at least as important to children’s success as IQ.

Here are skills research has defined to be “social-emotional intelligence:”

  • SELF AWARENESS – know what we think and feel, and how thoughts and feelings influence actions and choices
  • SELF-MANAGEMENT – learning how to handle challenging emotions so they don’t cause problems; being able to set goals and deal with obstacles
  • RESPONSIBLE DECISION-MAKING – being able to develop solutions to problems and know the consequences of actions on ourselves and others
  • SOCIAL AWARENESS – understanding the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others; developing empathy
  • RELATIONSHIP SKILLS – being able to work through conflicts; having strong connections to other people while resisting negative peer pressure

For 17 years, Chrysalis has incorporated this type of research in training and curriculum for Chrysalis After-School programs, and evaluated how girls improve in the measures of social-emotional intelligence.  We look forward to sharing with you results from the past school year in our 2013-14  Chrysalis After-School Program Evaluation, and confirming that our investment in girls truly makes a difference.

Read more about MindUP or The Hawn Foundation.