Movement for Wellbeing is for everybody!

Workshops offer participants an outlet for expression, an opportunity to learn about dance, increased social engagement, improved balance and coordination, and improved emotional, mental, and physical health.

Workshops prior to COVID 19 were facilitated in day-centers, residential care homes, schools, and one to one with people who are deafblind, blind, and with additional needs.

Offered now online- they give the opportunity to reach more parts of the community and support people directly from their homes or day-centers. They can join independently or participate with a partner or as a group.

Workshops to-date have been facilitated for participants from The Anne Sullivan Centre for the Deafblind, St Michaels House, Vision Sports Ireland, St John of God Outreach Services, Laura Lynn, National Council for the Blind in Ireland, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council initiatives such as Rhythm Club.

It featured as the cover story of the Irish Independent’s Health Supplement in 2017- Dancing in the Dark, a pioneering new initiative!


Movement for Wellbeing supports Organisational Goals:

Aims are specific to each organization and are discussed prior to the program’s start, key elements include-

  • Creating a safe space for residents and support staff to feel at ease to explore movement potential within their own body and experience its associated positive benefits
  • Offer new joy and appreciation of the body beyond its purely functional and protective purpose in everyday living
  • Learning of movement practices that enhance wellbeing and empower people with the skills to better support their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing in everyday life.

Objectives:

Movement for Wellbeing provides:

  • A Programme of Movement that supports physical, mental and emotional wellbeing
  • Safe space for self-expression and stress release
  • An opportunity for social engagement, collaboration, and team-work
  • Skills that apply and support everyday life- improving balance, social skill, and communication

Content:

Movement for Wellbeing integrates accessible movement practices including:

  • Chair Yoga for physical wellbeing and improved range of motion
  • Exercises to improve co-ordination, reflexes, dexterity, and balance
  • Tasks using tactile sensation and rhythm through the hands, feet, body and voice
  • Breathing practices to calm the body and mind
  • Techniques to encourage self-care and body-awareness
  • Stress and Tension Release exercises
  • Haptic Communication skill related to dance and transferrable to everyday life
  • Creative Dance and Free movement exercises for self-expression
  • Partner-work and group-work for an enhanced sense of community and belonging
  • Techniques to relieve anxiety, tension, and emotion through movement, sound, and touch

Participant Benefits:

  • Improved strength, coordination, balance, and stability (gross-motor function) to support physical health.
  • Enhanced proprioceptive skill to better read environments (underfoot, spatially, in relation to others, etc).
  • Improved body awareness to support mental health and self-compassion.
  • Improved emotional health through self-expression and social interaction.
  • Partner and group work elevates mood and sense of community.
  • Creative tasks bring a new dynamic between client and carer/ family member.
  • Tactile awareness skills that offer new ways to communicate and support the communication techniques taught in ASF training throughout the country.
  • New learning enhances self-confidence, extends participants’ concept of themselves and their potential.
  • Participants gain confidence as the leader in partner tasks. Roles are fluidly exchanged with both client and carer participating equally.
  • Improved quality of life through the interaction as a group and with a partner as many members of the outreach community may live in isolated settings.
  • The safe and supportive environment of the workshops encourages creative expression and provides a sense of freedom rarely found in day-to-day contexts for people with sensory loss.

 Organizations provide Movement for Wellbeing as a Service to:
  • Adult Outreach Community, Residential and Day Service users
  • Families of children with additional needs
  • Carers, Staff and Key Service Providers
Online Movement for Wellbeing Workshop for Adults with sensory impairments or additional needs

Benefits specific to this group:

Inclusive of the wellbeing benefits outlined above, workshops will support the mental health and physical wellbeing of participants by offering fun movement practices, an outlet for new learning, social interaction, and a sense of community, connection, and belonging as many live in isolated settings.

Format:

  • Workshops are at a fixed time every week for a 1-hour duration.
  • Each workshop will offer a range of movement exercises customized to the participants that week.
  • Participants attend the online workshop with a carer or family member so they can assist in communicating the exercises.
  • A weblink to the online workshop will be made available to participants. The same link is used for every workshop for ease of access.

Online Movement for Wellbeing Workshop for Families and Children with sensory impairments or additional needs

Benefits specific to this group:

Online Movement for Wellbeing workshops for Children with additional needs provide an opportunity to enjoy a creative movement class with their siblings and parents.

Inclusive of the wellbeing benefits outlined above, parents would have an opportunity to destress and unwind with their child in a shared activity.

Specific Themes and formats can be introduced based on family feedback- for example, one week could be Mother and Child, and the next Father and Child. Each week will be adapted to those attending, their needs and interests.

Format:

  • Workshops are at a fixed time every week for a 1-hour duration.
  • Each workshop will offer a range of movement exercises customized to the participants that week.
  • Participants attend the online workshop with their parent or siblings so they can assist in communicating the exercises.
  • A Zoom link will be available to participants. The same link is used for every workshop for ease of access.

Online Wellbeing Workshop for Carers, Staff and Service Providers of people with additional needs

Benefits specific to this group:

A weekly online Movement for Wellbeing workshop for staff and service-providers supports them in their personal wellbeing and their vital role as care-givers.

Weekly sessions would cater to staff needs and may include: Yoga, Somatic Movement, Meditation, Movement practices to enhance wellbeing and provide resources and new skills to support their work.

Content may include:

  • Techniques to destress
  • Yoga for the spine and lower back care
  • Meditation practices to improve focus
  • Breath-work to relieve anxiety and calm an overactive mind
  • Techniques to increase energy, awareness and concentration
  • Movement practices to improve proprioception and sensory awareness.
  • Tactile techniques to enhance communication through touch- such as: haptic mapping, directional touch and body-stories

Format:

  • Workshops would be at a fixed time every week for 1-hour duration.
  • Participants would attend the online workshop from their homes depending on their schedule.
  • Additional online resources and supports will be made available to staff to refer to.

Lead Facilitator:

Workshop facilitator, Laura Sarah Dowdall, combines her skills as a professional dancer, healing yoga, movement facilitator, and life coach to create customized workshops for people of all needs including people with learning challenges, limited movement, hearing, and vision loss. Laura works with adults and children at day and residential centers, schools, and rehabilitation units caring for people with additional needs.

Since 2015, Laura has developed a practice that focuses on moving with mindful awareness of our body, environment, mental and emotional state. She is passionate about promoting awareness of the role and significance of the senses, particularly the sense of touch. She takes inspiration from the work of Riita Lahtinen and Russ Palmer the originators of Social Haptic Communication.

Laura has a warm empowering facilitation style that encourages creativity and individuality amongst the students (both residents and support/care workers) in her movement workshops. Laura provides movement-based weekly classes, workshops, and staff retreat days.

Please contact Laura to discuss the needs of your organization or community group:

Phone: 087-9633229
Email: laura@healingyoga.ie
Web: www.healingyoga.ie

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Here is a video of 2017 workshops with members of the National Council for the Blind:

Testimonial from Anne Sullivan Centre for Deafblind

“There is a sense of group collaboration with each person receiving individual interaction and attention from Laura and and responding by participating in their own individual way. This can be by following a suggested movement or improvising their own individual movement response . It can also be Laura following a person’s movement and showing them she is nearby and has acknowledged their movement.

I have seen Service users appear relaxed, smiling as they move and express themselves. I have also seen a service user improvise a dance and show a sense of pride and awareness that what they did was their own creation.
After most recent class I observed service users dancing fully right til the end, moving, participating, smiling and support staff smiling. All written reports that day highlighted enjoyment, participation and smiling. This good form was noted to continue throughout the day.

Laura has sought advice about each persons preferred means of communication and has made to efforts to learn these so she can  communicate  aspects of the class using sign language, tactile signing, swell paper symbols and objects of reference.

Laura has sought feedback from keyworker’s after each class and surveyed same on ways to find what out what is working well and  ways to enhance the enjoyment of attendees. I am aware that the class has raised awareness among keyworkers about some service users enjoyment and talents for movement and dance . This can in turn help keyworkers and service users share a positive experience and communication and should encourage them to offer more movement based opportunities and activities.”

  • Steve, Support Worker Co-ordinator, ASC

“Laura has done some amazing work with our centre and I look forward to working with her again!

Laura, really made an effort to connect with the residents and adapt the class to their individual needs. I could see that the residents really responded to Laura and trusted her.”

  • Heather, Training & Innovation Manager, ASC

Laura will teach at DeafBlind Awareness Day this June!