Dance To Live

Therapeutic movement allows children to express feelings when there are no words. Grants to non-profits allow them to provide movement programs that are designed specifically for children in their care. Movement is an effective method for a child to transcend the challenges of the moment & work toward emotional and physical wellbeing. It is a means of expression, connection, co-operation, an emotional outlet & source of joy for children with different backgrounds and physical abilities.
Jan 4, 2017

Adolescents and children at Nexus Recovery Center

We are so grateful to again, in 2017, provide services to the women and children at the Nexus Recovery Center.  I don't know if through the years I have explained what makes Nexus such a special place for young women and their children to recover from drug abuse.

The mission of Nexus is --   "to serve as a link to sobriety, independence, and dignity for low-income women and their families affected by addiction. Nexus inspires hope, offer respect, and honors the unique differences of female addicts" 

Teen girls (ages 13-17) who are in need of addiction treatment can be served at Nexus. There are two high school classrooms on campus and DISD teachers ensure the girls stay on track at school while in treatment. What's so great about Nexus is that they let girls bring their children. There are a lot of rehab centers, but not all of them let the children stay at the same facility as their Moms -   and no one else provides the extra services to the children that come from Dance To Live.

Of course, the holiday season has just ended and over the last 3 months we have worked with the children on themed activities.  When we provide activities around the Thanksgiving holiday, we tailor those activities to match the holiday.  So we may read a story about the Pilgrims and then have the children act out some of the parts - or get on the floor and gobble like a turkey.  Always, at Thanksgiving we talk about gratitude in our groups and we go around and ask what each child is grateful for.  It allows them to speak, and trains the other children to listen respectfully. 

At Christmas we ask them to vocalize a want and a wish.  Almost every one of the 3-5 year olds ask for a home for the homeless (after all, at the moment they are homeless), and I was surprised to hear their wishes were for food for the hungry.  It says a lot about where they have come from.  One young boy, however, concurred about all the food he would like for himself and others - but then added - "but it would really be great to get a bike!"  Got to love the reality of children!

But most of our activity is focused on moving - dancing, yoga, breathing exercises, relaxation, balance, teamwork, discipline and awareness and respect for others.  This is accomplished through games accompanied by music  designed for the individual lessons.  And props - lots of props.  Props for color and numbers, props to assist in decision making, props to teach sharing and cooperation.  For instance we have a large circular net.  The children make a big circle in the room and stretch out the net.  Into the net, we throw a teddy bear.  There is a story that goes along with this - teddy ate too much pizza and feels that he needs to exercise so he will feel better.  So the children use the net to throw teddy way up in the air - and, of course, they have to catch him as he comes down.  If he flies off toward the edge, they have to save him and get him back into the middle again where he will be safe.  After this game has run its course (and they do love to throw teddy up and catch him again (sometimes we count the number of times we successfully catch teddy). then we can turn the net into a tent into which an individual may step to the center and choose a Yoga pose to show the others.

All of this is designed to build not only physical skills and body awareness, but the confidence to perform as a part of the class which then increases supportive relationships.

Everything Dance To Live does is to provide mentally and physically the fun that is so frequently left out of the life of a child of an addict.  The lessons are woven into the games.  The games teach skills and the joy that results from it all, is our reward.

Thank you for supporting Dance To Live in its mission - a healthy and effective method for a child to transcend the challenges of the moment and to work toward emotional and physical wellbeing. It is a means of expression, connection, co-operation, an outlet for emotion and a source of joy for children of all ages, backgrounds and physical abilities.

Oct 6, 2016

Dance to Live

Lately we have been working with the younger children at Nexus Recovery Center.  There seems to be lots of Moms living at Nexus with young children (3-5).  We are combining classes of movement with story telling, games, music and education…and most importantly lots of love and fun. 

When you are taken from your home at such an early age because your adolescent Mom is drug dependent, there has not been a lot of attention, compassion, or learning going on.  We try to make up for that in our movement classes and as the time progresses and we see the children week after week and smiles and spontaneity begin to emerge, then we know that we are making an impression and providing  them with an outlet to express the feelings they need to grow healthier and happier.  We’ve been taught early childhood experiences shape each of us and become part of who we are.  Emotional and physical deprivation creates havoc that we carry with us the rest of our lives.

If in some small way we can contribute to the well-being of our small charges, then we need to do everything we can to support our young victims of drug abuse.  As always, we extend our gratitude to you who so generously reach out to those less fortunate than we.  For every Mom we lift up, for every child we keep safe, we are making a better world together.

Again, in gratitude, I thank you for remembering Michelle and her love of dance and yoga –  by assisting Dance To Live to provide smiles and laughter, learning and cooperation, balance and discipline – and a feeling of worthiness to the children we serve.

Susan Parma - Susan.Parma@DanceToLive.org

Jul 11, 2016

The Nexus Children Are At Homeless Camp

July is a quieter time for Dance To Live.  Most of the children we serve attend the homeless camp in Dallas. 

I am assuming that most of you who read this, like me, lead lives that are relatively secure.  We have jobs – not just jobs – but careers; we can focus on our work and return home to a fulfilling family life.  It’s hard for us to imagine not having a place to live where there is some opportunity for peace a quiet.

Most of the children we serve come from homes that are environments of chaos.  Drugs, violence, insecurity, threats to safety………….we have children who sleep with their shoes on never knowing when they will need to run.  Needless to say, it is hard for these children to go to school and learn.  When survival is your primary instinct, everything takes second place.  And because parents are so stressed, their children aren’t getting the one-on-one attention they need and they get lost in the shuffle.

One of the camp counselors said, “It breaks my heart that every time that I do this, I continue to see more children, meaning the cycle continues,”

What the homeless camp provides is two weeks of aspirational experience.  There are role models there who say “I can do it” and sometimes that is all it takes to create a spark in a young mind.  Before they come to the camps, a lot of the kids’ aspirations are to be a maid, or a hot dog vendor.  They leave knowing that there is more available to them.

And in the thick of this, our Dance To Live therapist dovetails the classroom lessons being taught, the philosophy of effort, achievement and success, …………and the practical reality that a worthwhile life requires a balance of intellectual, emotional and physical activity.  Dance To Live focuses on the latter which encompasses, stretching, games, movement, music - both competition and cooperation with others- learning, personal expression, sharing, compassion and breathing techniques for relaxation.  Each activity is designed to be carried forward and used in their future lives.  If we can provide to these children the opportunity to acquire coping skills and techniques that will serve them in their future, then we are answering Michelle’s prayer when she asked for guidance for the vehicle that she should use to “give back”.

It is in memory of Michelle that Dance to Live strives to make a difference in the life of each child’s we serve.

Thank you for supporting us, our cause, and the belief that we can and are making a difference.

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