We strive to inspire members of our community to be active in our fight to eliminate racism and empower women. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table and YWCA works to create all sorts of opportunities for community members to be a part of our mission.
"The classes I have been teaching at Angeline's are designed to be simple, easy to follow, and adaptable for all ability levels. The focus is on healing the body and feeling good in the body."
Jeanna is our regular Nia Movement instructor at YWCA’s Angeline’s Day Center for Women. She began teaching Nia Movement in 2007 in Portland, OR. For the last two years, Jeanna has been volunteering at Angeline’s as an instructor for a weekly class that is free and open to all clients and YWCA staff.
Nia Movement is a blend of dance, martial arts, and healing forms. Each session starts with some slow gentle movement, progresses into a little bit of more energetic movement, and then finishes with stretching and meditation. Jeanna also takes accessibility into account when leading this class to make a perfect balance of low-impact exercise and fun.
How did you get started and what inspired you to work with YWCA?
After the 2016 election, I was looking for ways to get more connected to my community. I was donating money to a few social justice orgs, and YWCA was one of those. I realized that I could do more than give money, I could get involved personally. So I signed up for the volunteer orientation, thinking maybe I could do a few kitchen shifts or something general like that. At the orientation, they mentioned that they specifically needed a movement instructor for Angeline's. What perfect timing! I signed up, and we got going right away.
Why is it important to you to share Nia Movement with the women at YWCA?
One of the Nia slogans is "through movement we find health." I believe strongly in the healing power of movement, for body, mind, and emotions. I don't know all the personal stories of every woman I see at Angeline's, but I can see that they are stressed out and dealing with lots of issues physically, mentally, and emotionally.
They need the food, shelter, and other services that Angeline's provides, but they also need to feel good. Learning how to feel better physically and to reduce stress by moving their bodies is a skill that can hopefully help get them through tough stuff even when I'm not there teaching class.
What has been your favorite part about working with YWCA?
The best thing is when I see one of the ladies smile or relax a bit when they start dancing. Sometimes, one will tell me something like, the pain in their shoulder or ankle is decreased after we dance. Sometimes they don't even dance, but I can see that they are enjoying the music, or just watching others. It's an honor for me to be able to bring even a little bit of joy into their difficult days.
A side benefit for me is that I've grown a lot in my teaching abilities. I've become more adaptable and flexible in my teaching style, and better able to teach people of all different ability levels. Teaching at YW has improved the quality of my "regular" classes.
"I'm so grateful for the work YWCA does in our communities, and for welcoming me into the family!"
Our mission couldn’t be fulfilled without the volunteers who commit their time and talents to our cause. It is so important to have volunteers like Jeanna to bring active opportunities to YWCA clients. I want to give a special thank you to Jeanna for all the work she does for women and all of the smiles she has brought to our faces.
Outside of her volunteer work, Jeanna teaches Nia Movement in the Central District on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm and Saturdays at 9am. YWCA staff and volunteers are welcome to join her and try a class for free. Find out more about Jeanna’s Nia Movement Classes at on her website.
Want to use your talents to help women in the community? Find out how at an upcoming volunteer orientation. With your help we can make a difference in the community.
Kendyl Hardy is the Volunteer Services Coordinator at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. As an avid volunteer herself, Kendyl finds volunteering is a way to grow personally and as a community. Kendyl graduated with a degree in Public Relations with a concentration in nonprofit management. Throughout her college career, she worked to highlight the importance of civic service to sustain society and feature dialogue about issues affecting our communities.
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