Meet The Creator

Women in brown sweater with long hair with nature background.

Janis Gioia


Several years ago I sat at a kidney-shaped table in an elementary school classroom, with a little boy named Max. The air smelled like a mixture of modeling clay and Tempera paint, and was filled with the tapping sounds of wooden pegs being pushed into a board.

Max struggled to find the holes for the pegs, his anxiety rising, bordering on panic.  It was my first day as his teacher, part of the field work for my Master’s Degree in Special Education. I questioned the task that was causing Max so much stress and was told he wasn’t reachable…certainly was not teachable, and keeping him occupied was the most I could do.

Legally blind, and losing his ability to walk, Max (age 8) had a progressive, debilitating, and incurable illness. He was not expected to live much beyond his early teen years.

But unlike the professionals who had worked with Max before me, I am a meditation teacher, writer and a storyteller. For years I had I had taught meditation and mindfulness to my young students through stories and made my classrooms calmer and kinder places.

I reached across the table, took his little hand in mine and said, “Max, I am going to tell you a story.” He put down the pegs, leaned in closer, and listened as I wove a blend of meditation and mindfulness techniques into a fairytale- like story. Max became a superhero, who, along with a cast of animal characters and Max, used meditation techniques to feel peaceful, right there, in that moment.

As I told the story, Max relaxed. His panic subsided, and a smile lit his face. “Tell me another story,” he said as soon as I finished. At that moment, I realized that the best way to reach Max was the best way to teach Max, and the way that most of us prefer to engage with information:  through the magic of story.

With permission from my principal and graduate advisor, I wrote a curriculum that taught Max’s IEP goals through stories. Max’s anxiety decreased, he became excited and engaged about learning. Max met his IEP goals that year, and I discovered the power of meditative stories to change a life.

I had seen this power years earlier when my daughter was in the process of being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Doctor’s appointments, medical procedures, and being admitted into the hospital, gave her a lot of anxiety. I understood the anxiety: I have a chronic illness too, and a daily meditation practice has improved every aspect of my life.

I created soothing, meditative, stories to teach my daughter how to calm herself and ease her symptoms. In medical waiting rooms, before bed at night, and on the way to school when she didn’t feel well, these stories soothed her anxiety, which made her feel better.

Meditation is like that. It makes you feel calm, no matter the storms that swirl around you.

During March of 2020, when the world seemed to be falling apart, my meditation practice kept me grounded, even during a stressful cross-country move amid the global shutdown. Meditation apps for adults were becoming very popular, but I noticed there were none designed especially for children of all abilities.

Internet searches showed children meditating on a mountaintop or sitting quietly on a cushion with their hands in a mudra position. But what about a child who meditates in a wheelchair, with a service dog, or while rocking in a swing? What about a child who is deaf, has vision loss, or autism? What about a child with asthma who can’t focus on their breath, or a child who needs to meditate from their hospital bed?

Meditation looks different for every child, but it can be done by everyone.

I thought of Max, and all the other children who need the benefits of meditation like reduced anxiety, better sleep and increased focus and immunity. I remembered how mediation stories helped my daughter during the diagnosis of her illness.  I realized there was a huge group of kids who were missing out on meditation because they didn’t have a meditation platform that is story-based, inclusive, and representative of their needs.

With the dream of making meditation inclusive and accessible for every child, I created Wee Meditate. Wee Meditate is the only meditation platform that teaches meditation in the way that children learn best, through stories, with engaging animal characters, that represent every child.