Pictured from left: Cambrey, Marylou (seated), Angela, Sue and Yvonne
Currently, I volunteer as an art teacher at The Center for Success and Independence, a residential and outpatient treatment center offering adolescent trauma therapy and treatment for teen substance abuse and co-occurring mental health issues in Houston, Texas. Before that, I met Marylou Erbland, the co-founder of the center at a mutual friend’s home. At the time, I was volunteering with an organization that was preparing to open a residential treatment center for female minors who had been rescued from the sex trafficking industry. In discussing our opening and the girls who would be living there, I learned that four girls who were being successfully treated at TCSI were being considered for transfer to the new center.
Eventually, I began volunteering at TCSI as an art teacher. In reality, I'm more of an art project manager. I design a plan, collect needed supplies, instruct and encourage the young clients. My passion for living out my faith by serving motivates me to give my time. Plus, I love kids, young people and art so, this is a natural extension of who I am. I receive joy when I'm in the company of the clients. It's not always easy but, I always leave feeling I've learned something from them. It is a privilege to see a reluctant client who doesn't feel they are "good" at art, complete a project with satisfaction and pride.
In my time working with these kids I have observed that young people can become profoundly lost on their journey and lose their sense of self-worth. It takes time but, with the intense level of support and therapy provided at TCSI, they slowly make their way back to believing in themselves again and realizing they have worth, and that it has value!
These days, the sheer intensity and volume of life-threatening habits young people must be able to discern and make choices regarding is overwhelming. It saddens me how many children don't have a healthy and encouraging support system to lean on.
As for my connection to Nia, that began on May 21, 2011, when I picked up an airline magazine while traveling on American Airlines and read about it for the first time. When I returned home, I did some research and was surprised to learn Soma Ranch was 15 minutes down the road. On a Wednesday evening I phoned Helen Terry and two days later I became a registered trainee in the White Belt training! I have since completed both the White and Blue Belts, and I am an Ageless Grace instructor.
One day when visiting TCSI I noticed the lack of exercise the clients received -- especially the girls. It is widely known that conditioning the body also improves emotional wellbeing and cognitive functioning. What’s good for the body is good for the brain, leading to better results in recovery. I knew from my training as a nurse, camp leader, and missionary that Nia would be a perfect fit and could be accomplished by all fitness levels in a limited space. I affirm that dancing is good for the heart, mind and spirit....as well as being a ton of fun!
It is my hope that the Dare to Dream, Dare to Dance project with Studio NiaMoves will bring Nia to TCSI for one year, or maybe longer. And my prayer is there will be an increased awareness of this wonderful center and its mission. I believe Nia will be wholeheartedly received by the clients and staff and positive changes will result because dancing is embraced and practiced regularly. I have already seen the results from just a few classes. The participants love it, and the movement and excitement is contagious, moving couch-sitters to the dance floor!
Hopefully, the Nia community will also benefit from engaging with TCSI. Perhaps lifelong Nia students, instructors and educators are waiting for their own such time as this with TCSI to change their lives!
by Sue Korthauer, Nia student and TCSI volunteer