Prior to moving back to Houston four years ago, I worked with the Children's Partnership in Austin. As a child and family therapist I engaged with kids identified as "most at risk." From previous run-ins with the law, these kids had multiple agencies involved in their lives such as Child Protective Services, foster care and juvenile court. Many had unmet mental health needs and often had problems staying engaged in school and staying engaged in treatment, as well as in life.
I enjoyed working with this unique and challenging group, because for the first time in my career I was encouraged to use "non-traditional" or "alternative" methods of therapy and skills training including Dialectical Behavior Therapy and dance and art therapy. These alternatives teach individuals healthy self-expression, self-observation and greater awareness. Further, they help guide adolescents to be in their bodies and physically present in the world.
When I learned there was a residential treatment center in our local community focusing on youth with similar challenges, I felt instantly compelled to find a way into helping. Upon my first welcome into The Center for Success and Independence, I was impressed with the vivid artwork decorating the halls. The recreation area where I was to lead a Nia class, however, was filled with large couches and a big screen TV -- nice for some sedentary movie watching, but perfect for a movement/dance experience -- not so much!
Cheerfully, I introduced myself to the group of young girls and set us up to dance in front of the TV, which could act as a sort of reflective surface or "mirror" to engage them. I introduced the routine SACRED and invited them to step in. Many of the girls reacted shyly, uncertain about putting themselves in the "fish-bowl" situation created by the room setup The non-participants hung out on the sofas, watching the girls courageous enough to dance and move in front of their peers -- a potentially vulnerable situation for this age group. Still, a number of brave souls did engage with the routine and eventually some of the "observers" who saw us having a good time also joined in.
I was blessed to meet with a few of the young ladies after the session. Their excitement from having the chance to dance was visible, and they asked for more. Many of them said they yearned for the variety that such classes would bring to the center, as they spend so many hours a week in individual, group and family therapies around their school hours.
It is my deep hope that our upcoming celebration and gala raises the $6,000 in funds to bring Nia as an alternative therapy and healing movement form to these kids learning to heal their minds, bodies and spirits. Please join me Saturday, April 29th at 7 p.m. for our community dinner, auction and Dare to Dream, Dare to Dance fundraiser. Purchase your tickets before they are gone. Online donations, especially if you cannot attend, will be heartily welcome.
In gratitude for our community,
Cambrey Lindsay, MA, LPC
Nia Brown Belt Teacher