The journey

The Journey to Mindful Kindful YOUniversity

Hi! I am Dee DiGioia (di JOY uh). As a holistic educator, I find immense joy in guiding others to uncover and understand the intricacies of the mind and body. I am dedicated to helping individuals cultivate life skills and positive habits that enhance emotional, physical, and social well-being. Mindfulness is woven into every aspect of my life, both personally and professionally, and I coach others to embrace this practice as well.

In 2017, I founded Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, driven by a passion to introduce mindfulness and well-being programs that positively impact the lives of children and adults in our schools and communities. The goal was to address the myriad challenges that youth and adults face, which can interfere with learning, relationships, and overall mental health and well-being.

For several years, Mindful Kindful YOUniversity flourished, providing adult classes and workshops, as well as programs like “Mindful Explorers,” both in-school and virtually, to nurture mindfulness and social-emotional learning skills in young minds. However, in 2022, I needed to return to my previous role as a speech-language therapist in schools. This transition required me to step back from teaching and developing my mindfulness programs, which was a difficult but necessary decision.

Returning to the public education system reminded me of the significant challenges educators face daily. It reignited my commitment to fostering well-being, not just for students but for adults as well. This led to a new focus: offering Sound JourneysDrum Circles, and Retreats designed for adult self-care, relaxation, connection, and healing.

As of June 2024, I have left public education once again (officially retired), this time to fully commit to the evolving offerings of YOUniversity. My experiences have underscored the critical importance of self-care and mindfulness in our lives, and I am excited to dedicate myself entirely to this mission, supporting individuals in their journeys towards better mental health and well-being.

I am grateful for the experiences, resources, and training that enable me to share the wisdom, science, and evidence-based practices of mindfulness, social-emotional learning, eco-science, sound healing (and drumming), and more. These practices have repeatedly proven to foster greater resilience, joy, and peace in life, leading to a mindful, kindful, and peaceful existence.

To understand how Mindful Kindful YOUniversity came to life, it’s essential to look at what preceeded it.

My life’s experiences are the very fabric of the program to which I am deeply committed.

As an educator, I have seen firsthand the social-emotional learning skills missing from our school curriculums, which are crucial for educating the whole child. Personally, I wish I had learned these skills as a young child, having struggled with severe anxiety and complex childhood trauma.

I understand the stress and burnout that comes with working in public education and know many fellow educators who feel the same. I am passionate about sharing these skills with educators, parents, and the community to support them in their challenging roles. These practices have been a lifeline for me, both as an educator and a parent, helping me navigate depression, burnout, and manage life’s stresses. They continue to be invaluable.

Through my work with children facing social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, I discovered the transformative power of mindfulness and emotional intelligence life skills for my students and myself. For a time, I left the stresses of full-time work in special education to launch Mindful Kindful YOUniversity, offering programs for youth, educators, parents, and anyone seeking essential life skills for well-being.

In 2022, life circumstances required me to return to public education, but I continued to offer services for adults in my community. This is whn sound healing and drumming for wellness became my passion. Overwhelm and burnout in the public education system once again shaped my journey. As of June 2024, I have officially retired from public education to fully commit to the evolving offerings of YOUniversity.

As I said, my experiences have underscored the critical importance of self-care and mindfulness. I am excited to dedicate myself entirely to this mission, supporting individuals on their journeys toward better mental health and well-being.

Some of my earlier programs have been discontinued, while other programs and services as seen on this site are offered.
Pilot program – Folsom “Compassion Circles”
I teach the skills I wish I learned growing up, and the skills that would have helped me through my darkest of times. 

40+ years working with youth:

I have dedicated over 40 years to teaching and serving youth aged 0-18, including those with social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and communication challenges. My roles have included Speech-Language Therapist, Autism Movement Therapist, Yoga Instructor, Preschool Director, Bullying Intervention Specialist, Day Care Provider, Personal Life Skills Coach, and more. Over the past 15 years, my work in special education has taken a unique approach by implementing school-wide programs to foster a positive learning environment for all students. This has included social-emotional learning, bullying prevention and intervention, and mindfulness practices for all ages. I have witnessed firsthand the profound impact of compassion and mindfulness training in my work with individuals from preschool through adulthood.

Dee DiGioia, presenter at the Autism Conferences of America, Pasadena CA ~ Aug 2013

Bullying Prevention & Intervention: 

In 2009, while working as a speech-language therapist, I founded Caring and Courageous Kids, a bullying prevention & intervention program, to awaken and inspire the hearts and minds of young children through adults to bring mindfulness and compassion into daily living with the intention to help stop bullying and start contributing to a more peaceful and compassionate culture in our homes, schools, and communities. For several years I helped bring attention to the pervasive problem of bullying and inspiring compassion through in-school and after-school programs such as Peace Project, school assemblies, public speaking and conferences. I wrote, directed, and produced a children’s educational movie, Which Team Will You Choose?  and followed that up by publishing a guidebook to supplement the movie for educators and parents – One Caring and Courageous Choice at a Time. After piloting a bullying intervention program at a middle school in Folsom and a school-wide program at an inner city elementary school in Sacramento, CA, I began to shift towards mindfulness because I felt it was a missing and essential component. I believe mindfulness is the missing piece (and peace) in education. 

Mindful Kindful YOUniversity – the beginning:

My bullying intervention program at St. HOPE (PS7) in Sacramento, CA transformed into a successful school-wide mindfulness program for K-5 classrooms, and also for educators through staff development workshops. Skeptics turned into rallyers! The inner city school where I worked at that time had a population of many, if not most, of the students having trauma in their lives. There were numerous behavior challenges that the teachers had to deal with daily, hourly, minute by minute. Most teachers reacted in a highly punitive way and these students were not learning how to calm themselves, how to regulate themselves, how to be more self aware and kinder, etc etc. I was frustrated by the cycle of aggression and dove into my mindfulness certification program so I could offer some powerful training for both children and staff! Many of the testimonies I share from St HOPE are from the youth and adults. It was a transformational experience for myself and for those who I was fortunate enough to share it. Unfortunately the school was a highly stressful work environment and staff turnover was weekly! I made it through two years and then decided to move to be closer to family.

In 2016, I worked one more year in public education as a speech language therapist where my dreams of launching mindfulness programs were on hold during “the most difficult year ever as an educator”. It was the final straw for me with my mental and physical health being severely impacted from the stress of the caseload and lack of support from administrators. Staff turnover was high in special education in this district as well. At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, I made a decision to follow my own advice for my well-being by leaving the stresses and challenges of working in special education in the public school setting and to follow my heart and calling…

The launching of Mindful Kindful YOUniversity 

In 2017 I was inspired to launch Mindful Kindful YOUniversity (MK YOU) to share mindfulness and well-being programs to make a positive impact on the lives of children and adults in our schools and communities while addressing the challenges youth (and adults) face in school and in life, which interfere with learning, relationships, and mental well-being. Working on the “inside” of public education, I can tell you that our schools simply do not have enough resources to effectively address all the ranges of social, emotional, and mental health needs, however any program such as MK YOU can help make a significant difference. It already has!  MK YOU equips and teaches children, teens, and adults HOW to cultivate the inner resources, or “superpowers” for reducing stress and experiencing more balance, resilience, and overall well-being by integrating evidence-based strategies and practices of mindfulness, movement & yoga, and social emotional learning to develop the essential life skills of emotional intelligence, or “Sm’Heart skills” — the essential education for responding more skillfully to life in the 21st Century!

I have been offering school and community programs in San Luis Obispo County, CA since 2017.

UPDATE 2024 : Some of my earlier programs have been discontinued, while other programs and services as seen on this site are offered.

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,  we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” ~Wendell Berry

My own transformation can be yours as well:

As an adult, I went through a period of deep depression because I lacked the skills to manage and heal from childhood trauma and severe anxiety. In my studies to help children, I discovered the missing pieces and tools for my own life. After all, adults who grow up without learning essential life skills and tools often struggle to navigate stress and overwhelm in their roles as parents, educators, or in other capacities.

The skills I began to share with educators, parents, and adults are those I wish I had learned years ago. These skills could have helped me through depression, prevented burnout, and managed life’s stresses. My experiences have shaped my purpose and path in life as a Mindfulness Guide, and more recently as a Sound Healing Practitioner and Drumming Circle Facilitator.

I teach from the approach that resonated with me and facilitated my healing. These skills provided me with a unique experience during what I called “the most difficult year ever as an educator” back in 2016.  Instead of spiraling into deep depression, I walked away with gratitude and resilience and the seed of “Mindful Kindful YOUniversity” emerged! [Update – 2023-2024 was the second most difficult year in education and pushed me towards retirement once and for all from working in the public schools!]

With me, you will learn the fundamentals of pragmatic, evidence-based mindfulness to handle life’s pressures and respond to life’s challenges and joys with grace and skill. Through a variety of practices, including sound healing journeys, drumming for wellness, and nature retreats, you will experience firsthand how these essential life skills and experiences can be the foundation for greater strength, resilience, health, and happiness.

Thank you for reading this far! ~Dee DiGioia

>>> Credentials: Certifications, Training, Experience <<<

Dee DiGioia
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