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Mar 13, 2017 10:20 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Parent Designs Mobile App To Help Kids Meditate

Ty Wenzel of East Hampton showing her DreamyKid mobile phone app. JON WINKLER
Mar 14, 2017 2:21 PM

Meditation is used to achieve inner peace and mindfulness, but some also say that it can help kids build self-confidence and focus in school. Now, that use is accessible at the tap of a touchscreen.

DreamyKid is a new mobile application free for download that offers various forms of guided meditation for kids of all ages. The meditation programs on the app last five to 10 minutes apiece and offer calming music, imagery and affirming phrases to help kids build social and emotional skills, learn to better focus on their schoolwork, and handle stressful situations better.

It’s an app for kids created by a parent, Ty Wenzel. The 50-year-old Springs resident said that she has been using guided mediation herself since 1997 after discovering an instructional cassette by guided meditation pioneer Shakti Gawain that helped her deal with her own depression without the use of prescription medication.

“The way I started using it was just to get out of my apartment,” she said recently. “After getting into a meditative state, I started visualizing myself outside doing normal things. Within two weeks, I was feeling so much better that it became a practice of mine throughout my life.”

Ms. Wenzel has a 14-year-old son, Kyle, who attends East Hampton High School, and she said she wanted to provide a way for kids to tend to their feelings. She referenced her own troubled background and reports of high school students committing suicide as motivators to take action however she could.

“I started wondering how I could help and talking to other parents who seemed at a loss,” she said. “[The high school] has some programs in place now, but nothing like this. This isn’t so much because of that, but because I like to help children.”

Kyle likes to use the application before he goes to bed and finds it gives him self-confidence, his mother said.

“It takes a little time to work, but it’s really calming, and I really wanted to use it,” said Kyle. “I’d recommend it to my friends at school.”

Ms. Wenzel, who moved east from Manhattan in 1999, works in web design, marketing, art direction, and website development. Even with a busy work schedule, she taught herself computer coding and went on to build her knowledge of mobile technology as it grew in popularity. She launched DreamyKid in December, and she is now in the process of redesigning the app.

“Running mobile design is very different from running web design,” she said. “You have to make one for Apple, then one for Android. The code is not on a server the way it is on a website.”

Through the app, Ms. Wenzel will put out three meditations per month—one for free, and the other two costing from $1.99 to $3.99—with programs that focus on such things as attention deficit disorder or body scan meditation. Her long-term goal, she said, is to have DreamyKid used in schools across the country, ideally to replace detention when kids act out.

She is conducting case studies with DreamyKid at a school in the Bronx and a school in New Jersey, and she’s in talks to have the app used at a school in the North Fork, though she said she couldn’t identify the schools until the studies are complete.

“If you give detention, it doesn’t help anybody to throw a child in a room to shame them,” Ms. Wenzel said. “What helps them is to help them think about what they’re doing, how to better control their emotions, how to stop the negative process that they’re going through, and to look forward to our meditation rooms.

“What I’m finding in the case studies is that the kids are looking forward to it, they want to stop what they’re feeling because they can’t control it,” she said. “When they go in there, they get to sit, they get to calm down, and they love the meditations because it’s designed for them. They just want to feel good.”

Ms. Wenzel said that she hopes the studies come back to her in a month and that once they’re complete, she hopes to expand DreamyKid’s use to more schools, including East Hampton High and the Springs School.

“These are life tools,” Ms. Wenzel said. “When it worked for me as an adult, and I’m still using it since 1997, that says a lot.”

More information can be found at dreamykid.com.

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