Valerie York-Zimmerman has been a teacher and tireless advocate for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in South Florida since 1998 and 2002, respectively. Valerie received her training from and was certified to teach MBSR by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, where MBSR was pioneered by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979.
She is affiliated with the Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute (MBPTI) at the University of California San Diego, where she is an approved MBSR Mentor and Teacher of the MBSR Practicum in Miami for those seeking to become a Certified MBSR Teacher.
Hundreds of people from all walks of life have taken Valerie’s MBSR Program over the years beginning in 1998. Participants include community leaders, healthcare providers including physicians, mental health professionals, academics, judges and others whose lives impact the South Florida community. (Click here to read testimonials.)
After years of ongoing study with renowned Eastern and Western insight or mindfulness teachers as well as teaching her MBSR-based classes to adults, Valerie envisioned expanding these life-affirming principles to children. Convinced the most effective way to reach children was by training their teachers, Valerie embarked on the challenging task:
- In 2011, Ms. York-Zimmerman and her husband Leonard A. Zimmerman, M.D., founded Mindful Kids Miami (MKM), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that brings the skills of mindfulness to all children, grades Pre-K through 12, throughout Miami-Dade. From 2011 – 2015, she led the work of that organization in a number of capacities — as Executive Director, President of the Board, Senior Teacher and Trainer.
- She created and taught the Mindful Teachers Training Program (MTTP) and authored the Mindful Teachers Training Program Manual, a useful reference/guide for teachers.
- In 2015 Valerie obtained approval for a year-long, path-finding Pilot Program between Mindful Kids Miami and Miami-Dade County Public Schools in which she taught Inner Journey~Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to hundreds of teachers and school counselors who implemented mindfulness in their classrooms and schools. In just one year, results were remarkable: enhanced academic and social-emotional learning and improved student behavior. The program offers tremendous benefit in improving mental health and wellbeing of children, teens, educators, and schools for generations to come.
- Perhaps one of the most impressive measures of the impact of Valerie’s mindfulness work in the South Florida community is the fact that she was nominated as one of three finalists for the Miami Herald South Florida Visionary Awards in Education, in May 2016.