When I visited in December, a new group of children had just entered Nexus Recovery Center with their Moms. I joined the children’s class.
Whereas the kids Lynn works with on a regular basis are thrilled to see her - these children were apprehensive of a new person and what was expected of them. Lynn got out her "dots" and spread them in a circle on the floor. Each child sat on a dot - and we began the movement period with music and games.
The games involved moving with colored scarves and taking turns dancing in the center of a circle when your color was called, Yoga poses, a story book followed by questions about the child's favorite part of the story, stuffed animals (each child chooses an animal and then makes the sound of the animal or walks like the animal), and a piece of Christmas tinsel under which the children crawl/slide/slither and then later jump over.
One of the boys seemed incapable of participating. When all the other children would sit, he would remain standing and seemed oblivious to what Lynn had asked him to do - and also, totally unaware that the children around him were having fun. He watched or stared out into space but never participated in the class. He was not a problem and we would speak to him using his name, but he was unresponsive. We knew there were no physical problems - it just seemed he couldn't connect. I turned my attention to others in the room - and later when I looked back, he was sitting on his dot on the floor - smiling - not participating yet - but smiling. Next time...............
I was so happy to see progress in just that one class, as the children began to meet expectations and participate fully in the movement program - and relax and enjoy the experience.. The feeling in the room went from concern (doing something new) to enthusiasm and smiles. That’s just how fun Dance To Live is!
Thank you for supporting Dance to Live! We all need to dance a bit and shrug off life's problems. One hundred percent of your donations go directly to providing services to the children. Without your help we would not be able to affect a positive change in these children's lives. We are grateful.
Susan Parma, President - Susan.Parma@DanceToLive.org
Thanks to all of you who have supported Dance to Live throughout the years. We are working hard to provide movement as a healthy and effective method for an adolescent to transcend the challenges of the moment and work toward emotional and physical wellbeing.
It's difficult to imagine that another year has almost gone by and we will be starting our 7th year at Nexus Recovery Center - a residential treatment center where adolescent women receive treatment for drug addiction while their children reside with them at the center. The women and children attend school plus counseling sessions, both individual and group.
Added to this mixture of treatment, Dance to Live offers classes in Yoga and therapeutic dance, both to the mothers and their children – who are as much victims of their mother’s drug addiction as the mothers themselves.
Some of these young women have had lives so confusing that it is difficult for them to express what they are feeling. Movement transcends all languages and allows the women to express themselves in ways that otherwise they would not be able to. Dance to Live works on trust and supportive relationships– pairing individuals in Yoga and dance moves where success is dependent on both parties.
We continue to be impressed as we facilitate the girls and their children on ways to express feeling through movement, support other young women in their group, appreciate what is being offered to them, and voice love and gratitude for members of their family who they know care about them.
The first time I attended one of the Nexus classes was near Thanksgiving 6 years ago. Our dance therapist, Lynn, asked the girls to express what they were grateful for. I was truly surprised to realize that these young women felt “loved” by their families- that they realized others in their lives cared very deeply for them. I honestly thought that they would be disenfranchised from their families – but that wasn’t the case.
Perhaps because Nexus exists to work with adolescent females, particularly girls with children, they are not yet hardened addicts. However, on the same day of my first visit the girls had just received the news that 2 of their friends who had recently been released, overdosed and died on cheese heroine on the same weekend they left Nexus. The girls in class were struggling with grief and the realization that they were not so different from their deceased friends.
We hope that accomplishments earned in the Dance To Live classes prepare these young women to succeed in other challenges. If one can master a difficult Yoga pose, the balance required for that transcends into other aspects of their lives. Exercise, expression, music, motion, release from daily struggles in a healthful setting – all these are tools for their future survival.
This holiday season, Dance To Live is grateful for your support. As Michelle once wrote -
“When I was dancing, I could be anyone. I took all my anger, the love, and the disappointment that was hidden deep inside my soul and let it burst out through my body. I always knew I was OK when I was dancing, that things would work out after all and that tomorrow would be a brighter, new day.”
We wish for you a holiday season filled with love and friendship. Thank You!
Susan Parma, - Susan.Parma@DanceToLive.org
Nexus Recovery Center is a facility where addicted adolescents girls and their children come to begin their journey into a new, drug-free life. They are provided shelter for several weeks as well as counseling, both individual and group. They learn to live without drugs and they meet mentors who return to demonstrate that each of them can successfully survive and thrive, without drugs, in a complicated and difficult world.
So many of these young women come from cultures where out-of wedlock children are part of the norm, but the culture does not teach the educational, vocational, or personal skills necessary to provide a healthy and stimulating environment for their children. Failure at the one thing that is supposedly thought to be the "best" experience of their lives - motherhood - frequently is one of the factors that that plays into their addiction - plus so many of their friends are in the same situation and using as well.
But motherhood is also the impetus for these young girls to lead better lives. The welfare of their children frequently is the biggest motivation to get clean – that and the fact that a judge may have offered Nexus as an alternative to prison and being separated from their children.
Dance to Live is one of the healing cogs in their road to recovery. The population changes every few months - so it is necessary to tailor our classes to those who are currently in residence. With the children we frequently inter-mingle games with movement exercises or Yoga. The games stress cooperation, respect for the space of others, enthusiasm, joy and pride in accomplishments. Yoga, which requires balance and control, is frequently conducted in pairs to demonstrate that they can count on one another.
The Moms' classes are much like their children’s but demand more focus. The movements are challenging, group exercises insist that each pairing is with a different young woman - and, yes, they dance sometimes to favorite music which is chosen by vote. Ultimately as well as providing a safe, challenging, learning environment, we want to see smiles. These young women have had too few opportunities to smile.
As Michelle, for whom this site is in memory, said -" I always knew I was OK when I was dancing, that things would work out after all and that tomorrow would be a brighter, new day."
May 15, 2014
This afternoon I visited the Dance To Live pre-K class at Nexus Recovery Center. I never cease to marvel that these small children have already faced such difficult lives and yet, when presented with the option of joy, display such resilience.
When the dance therapist, Lynn Moon and I arrived, the children’s faces lit up with anticipation. Of the 14 pre-K children, 8 were selected by their teachers to participate in today’s class. Lynn manages to seamlessly integrate movement and learning. For instance, today we started with a song about rocket ships. While singing the words to the song, we also simulated “countdown to launch” and then whooshing into the air with arms uplifted. The song requires body movement, using fingers to count down and attention – attention is important because many of these children have been put aside as their mom struggled with addiction.
Next - out came a bag of colored scarves. The children could wad the scarves up and catch them with various body parts called out by Lynn. Catch the scarves on their backs, on their shoulders, with their elbows, on their heads and tummies. Then Lynn reinforced colors by asking the person with the red scarf to step into the circle, do a dance and then step out --- until each color was called, responded to, and each person had an opportunity to perform.
This was followed by a game with dinosaurs. After pulling different plastic dinosaurs out of a box, Lynn asked questions about each type of dinosaur - what each type liked to eat, etc., and then the children mimicked the different shapes of the dinosaurs – like stretching out to eat the leaves high on the trees, or growling to eat meat, putting their hands on their backs to make the spikes of a Stegosaurus or flapping their arms to become a flying Pterodactyl. A book was read about dinosaurs eating at the family table and using good table manners – followed by a round of the children saying what healthy food they liked best.
Next it was the time for each child to jump up, say his or her name and then shout, “I am wonderful!!” And they mean it and feel it in that safe space.
We closed by sitting quietly, breathing in and out through our noses 5 times and sending out good thoughts to everyone in the world.
Class time – 45 minutes – attention and focus – 45 minutes!! Movement, games, learning, cooperating, taking turns, acknowledging and affirming one another – an uplifting experience – one well suited to the memory of Michelle who said:
Last week on the news, a Dallas Metroplex high school was spotlighted again for an exponential rise in drug use among its students. It is the same high school where several cheese heroin deaths were reported a few years ago.
One of the agencies that responds to this crisis is Nexus Recovery Center. It has specifically targeted this type of drug use, so common among adolescents – and particularly adolescent females. And within this population are a significant number of adolescent mothers.
The impact on children of young mothers debilitated by drugs is beyond the imagination of most of us – but more and more frequently the court system is sending these girls and their impacted children to Nexus Recovery Center for long-term treatment and care. At Nexus, the girls detox, live in dorms with one another, share their life stories in counseling sessions with other adolescent women in the same circumstance, and receive parenting classes as well attending school on campus 5 days a week for 6 hours per day. Their children attend a nearby elementary school.
The Adolescent Residential program is based on the 12 steps and addresses issues such as anger management, decision-making, healthy relationships and socialization, relapse prevention, physical fitness, and life skills training.
Within this structured and stable environment, Dance to Live offers 4 classes of movement therapy each month, and we have been doing that for the past 6 years. Our certified dance therapist works with the adolescents and their children in separate classes to inspire health, physical endurance, self-esteem and confidence through different types of movement. Feelings which are impossible to put into words can be expressed and released through movement.
One hundred percent of your donation is used to provide services. We are very, very grateful for your support. Our goal is to give to each child, for their future, the tool of movement as a means of expression. Thank you!
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