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Visiting Notre Dame de la Guadeloupe

By James S. Gordon MD

Before we leave for the countryside we visit classrooms at Notre Dame de la Guadeloupe where our Haitian team is currently leading workshops. After workshops, which take place in classrooms, have been offered to all 700 students, we’ll begin 10-week-long small mind-body groups for all the kids, and the teachers and administrators as well.

This is a process that has worked wonderfully well in a number of other schools in Port-au-Prince. The teachers and administrators consistently tell us that the kids who come through the groups are less stressed out and less prone to the nightmares and angry outbursts that have plagued them since the January 2010 earthquake.

It’s a treat to see the classrooms grow quiet as the kids practice soft belly breathing, and then burst into movement as our Haitian leaders teach them shaking and dancing. They’ve also added a new exercise since my last visit. They use guided imagery to encourage the kids to imagine that they are butterflies lifting free for a moment from the problems of poverty and overcrowding that are all but universal; after the imagery everyone stands and waves their arms, enjoying the feeling as well as the image of flight.

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