A Residential Shelter for Adolescent Drug Addicts

by Dance To Live

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.

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

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.


I’m particularly excited to write this report to you today.  Last time I told you about a young man in one of the shelters we serve.  He was a big boy for his age, was staying in the shelter because his family was in danger, and yet, he was uncommonly kind – and I wondered how such a wonderful young man could come from a violent home.  Somewhere along the way, someone had taught him how to be a friend and how important kindness is.

Skip to Christmas.  When I was visiting my family in Portland OR, I mentioned this fact -  and that I was heartbroken that this young man (probably middle school age) was wearing shoes that were too big with broken shoelaces.  I was frustrated that he didn’t have decent shoes to wear, nor did he even have laces to tighten his shoes.

Children who come to the shelters we serve – frequently are fleeing their homes and come with very little or no notice.  Also, the young mothers at Nexus are often there because the courts have ordered them into treatment rather than prison.  When the mothers are moved from jail into Nexus, their children are brought to the center to receive education and counseling – because they too are the victims of drug abuse, neglect and violence.

Fast forward to now.

You can’t imagine how thrilled I was to receive 4 large boxes of donated clothing and shoes from Nike.  We have the tiniest Nike’s for our toddlers, boys and girls shoes for young children, as well as larger sizes for the big boys and girls all emblazoned with the famous Swoosh.  There are enough Nike shirts in various sizes to make up teams and the clothing is fashionable – an important fact for the older children.

Our first delivery was to Nexus Recovery Center – but we have spread this generous donation from Nike among the 3 shelters we serve.  Genesis Women’s Shelter was yesterday and our last delivery is today to The Family Place.

I will say that the genuine gratitude from everyone to whom I have delivered is overwhelming.  When they see all the shoes and clothing, they are just stunned by Nike’s generosity.

I have attached a link and some photos of Dance to Live board members sorting clothing.  Nothing we show has compromised the security of the Mothers and their children.  As you know, frequently we are limited from showing photos by safety and security issues.

We will be receiving some photos from Nexus and Genesis and The Family Place – so stay tuned for our next report.  I have been honored to make these deliveries and there are not enough words to express our gratitude to Nike and the IHM division which made this all possible.

As always, we extend our gratitude to those of 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


When I visited a class at Nexus Recovery Center in December, a new group of children had just entered the treatment center with their Moms.  I joined the children’s class.  What a sad testament to the effects of drug abuse on the children in a family.  The new children are dramatically different than children who have lived at and experienced the treatment center for several weeks. It is difficult for the new youngsters to sit still and listen, many of the 4 year olds were still in diapers, they did not know their colors, had trouble introducing themselves in a group and were anxious and restless.

Repeatedly I am impressed by the patience and loving nature of the staff.  They make a huge difference in these children's lives in a very short time.  They set boundaries of acceptable behavior and temper their discipline with love and respect.  Their speech is positive and rewarding and affirming.  . 

It is in this environment that Dance to Live offers it's classes.  Begun as a vehicle to pass on Michelle's love of dance, Dance to Live offers grants to non-profit organizations which provide dance therapy, yoga, and expressive movement programs that are designed specifically for the children in their care. Movement therapy is a healthy and effective method for a child to transcend the challenges of the moment and work toward emotional and physical wellbeing.

I was so happy to see progress in just this one class, as the children began to meet expectations and participate fully in the program.  The feeling in the room went from concern (doing something new) to enthusiasm and smiles.  That’s just how captivating Dance to Live is!

I know that what we do at Nexus Recovery Center, and other shelters in which we provide services, honors the kind, loving, accepting personality of Michelle.  What we do is healthy, stimulating, and lots of FUN!  We use physical activity to bond participants through integrated and challenging movement.

Thank you for supporting us – and lending a helping hand to these young mothers and their children.


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Organization Information

Dance To Live

Location: Dallas, TX - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.DanceToLive.org
Project Leader:
Susan Parma
Dallas, TX United States
$2,970 raised of $9,300 goal
57 donations
$6,330 to go
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