The Benji Project Teaches Coping Skills

by Heather McRae-Woolf, program director, The Benji Project

A group of sophomores from Port Townsend High School recently sat in a circle in Chetzemoka Park examining raisins, holding them up to the light and rolling them around in their fingers. They were engaged in a mindful eating activity guided by instructors from The Benji Project. “I will never look at raisins the same way again!” said one participant.

The Benji Project partners with schools across Jefferson County to offer experiences of mindful- ness and self-compassion to middle and high school students. Mindfulness is simply the practice of being present, noticing thoughts and feelings with openness. Self- compassion involves responding to difficult thoughts and feelings with kindness. Cultivating these ways of relating to ourselves can help reduce feelings of being over- whelmed and build emotional resilience.

Parenting Circles Launched

As families emerge from pandemic isolation, many parents of teens find themselves navigating new territory, often without the community network they had when their children were younger. In response to requests for support, The Benji Project has launched weekly drop-in parenting circles. The circles meet on Thursdays, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in the conference room of our new office space in The Good Templars Building, 280 Quincy Street, Port Townsend.

The parenting circles offer peer-to-peer sharing, as well as mindfulness practices. “We want to normalize the experience of parenting teens,” said co-facilitator Aleah Lawrence-Pine. “Too often folks feel like they are the only ones going through a tough time, which is just not true.”

‘Sips of the Season’ Wine Tasting

To support the work of the organization, The Benji Project is hosting a “Sips of the Season” event on Saturday, December 3, with music and tastings of wine, cider, and other seasonal drinks. Learn more and purchase tickets to this event at

(Editor’s Note: The September issue of the Voice showcased The Benji Project, a nonprofit that helps Jefferson County youth develop skills for stress management and emotional resilience.)