An overwhelming number of incarcerated girls are victims themselves, caught in cycles of violence and abuse. “Breathe2Achieve” is working to break this cycle.
Our approach combines yoga, mindfulness and creative arts, the project is the result of nearly two decades of teaching experience, justice work, yoga and mindfulness-based practices. Our model is significantly influenced by learnings from mental health, probation, the judiciary and education. It combines gender-responsive best practices with trauma-sensitive yoga, developmental assets for healthy adolescent maturation and contemporary neuroscience research on developmental trauma and the brain.
Our programming utilizes the Child Trauma Academy’s evidence-based Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics to address the particular needs of girls in the juvenile justice system. This model guides our class sequencing by addressing emotional dysregulation, which is common in traumatized youth. The Child Trauma Academy recommends yoga, meditation, and expressive arts as part of essential, therapeutic interventions to regulate traumatized individuals’ nervous systems and bring them back into balance.
The “Breathe2Achieve” program focuses on early intervention to help marginalized and justice-involved girls prepare for a positive future. We offer treatment and rehabilitation to justice-involved girls by offering gender-responsive, trauma-informed, culturally-responsive, and strengths-based programming.
We employ the “3R’s” used in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics:
Regulate, Relate then Reason.
Our mission is to lead at-risk, exploited and incarcerated girls toward accountability to self, others, and community by providing practical tools to effect behavioural change. We are specially trained yoga teachers, mindfulness facilitators, creative arts educators and go to facilities to deliver our mindfulness-based curriculum.
Movement therapy – Trauma Informed Yoga
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Practice
Creative expression - Art Therapy
A two-day program with two sessions per day. The first session of each day is a movement based, encouraging the participants to come out of their headspace and create an awareness of the benefits of getting the body moving to remove stress and elevate the mood. The tool for movement is trauma-informed yoga (non-culturally biased). The first session of each will conclude with a short mindfulness based cognitive therapy practice (see detailed session outlines for more information).
The second session of each day is craft therapy; the concept is “Mindfulness Mandalas”. The participants will create a woven mandala over the two days that includes positive affirmation wording and symbolism. This creation of the mandalas is a structured sequence to aid with concentration and regulate the alpha brainwave rhythms. The students will take away the mandala and associate activities and emotions of positivity with its creation.
The session structure for each day mirrors “bottom-up” brain development by first regulating the brainstem (the “survival brain”) through sensory integration and self-regulation in the Trauma-Yoga practice, then the limbic system (the “feeling brain”) through relational activities of the Mindfulness activities, and finally the prefrontal cortex (the “learning brain”) through cognitive activities in the creative therapy class.