Volunteers curb social isolation for those facing early onset dementia in Vancouver
In light of national volunteer appreciation week, Vancouver-based Paul’s Club celebrates partnership with Yoga Outreach.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (APRIL 23, 2017) - Nita Levy, co-founder of Paul’s Club, a social day program in Vancouver for those living with early onset dementia, describes why they partnered with Yoga Outreach five years ago.
“Our members, some as young as 43, are facing early onset dementia. They are constantly being reminded of the many devastating losses in their lives. They have lost their jobs. You lose your driver's license as the disease progresses. You lose your friends because they don’t know how to talk to you and the person becomes socially isolated. Yoga Outreach recognizes how detrimental social isolation can be, they focus on re-connecting individuals with their communities by meeting them where they’re at - both physically and emotionally.”
Yoga Outreach is a charity that partners with social service facilities and volunteer yoga instructors to provide trauma-informed yoga programming within social service facilities across BC. With no centralized location, they operate their programs within facilities individuals faced with challenges are already accessing, such as mental health centres, addictions recovery centres, women’s and youth jails, transition houses, and youth resource centres.
What makes Yoga Outreach programming different from regular yoga programming is the use of invitation and choice, rather than direction and correction. Participants are offered an opportunity to develop safe and compassionate relationships with their bodies through mindful movement and breathing techniques. They are invited to join in as they are comfortable and participate in any way they choose, without question. The programs are also tailored to the specific needs of each facility - for example, at Paul’s Club, members participate with the added stability of a chair.
“The volunteers allow our members to feel that this is a class without any pressure, and because of that, the willingness to try new and different things is always there. It’s a chance for our members to experience joy in what they are still able to do, rather than focus on what they can no longer do. It’s become a weekly highlight for the people here - Paul's Club would not be the same without our Yoga Outreach volunteers.”
Kristin Bingeman, who leads one of the two weekly classes at Paul’s Club explains why she continues to volunteer with Yoga Outreach.
“I think that mindful breath and movement makes a difference in people’s lives. I feel it in myself and I see it in the people I have the privilege of teaching. Each week is an opportunity to connect, laugh, move, and breathe together.”
Yoga Outreach is currently in need of volunteer yoga instructors in order to expand access to facilities seeking programs across BC. Volunteers must have completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training, and are then required to complete Yoga Outreach's Core TrainingTM , online or in-person, in order to learn how to deliver trauma-informed and strengths focused classes for those facing challenges with mental health, addiction, poverty, violence, trauma, and imprisonment.
To find out more about volunteering or participate in the upcoming trauma-informed yoga training in Victoria or Vancouver please visit www.yogaoutreach.com or contact Yoga Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org.