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  • Writer's pictureBelle Alvarez

Rooted in Creativity and Care

Mariadela Belle Alvarez helped facilitate BuildaBridge's most successful program to date, The Arts of Self-Care: Addressing Vicarious Trauma in Human Service Providers. Frontline responders joined BuildaBridge Restorative Teaching Artist to learn arts-based practices that promote wellbeing and hope. Here's a reflection from Belle:

In 2020, I remember reflecting with Ami (BuildaBridge's ED) about our response as artists to the challenges we were faced with when closures and restrictions were setting in. I felt grief, anguish and uncertainty while still holding a desire to practice and create. We had conversations about programming with BuildaBridge being a real time response to the collective trauma our global community was facing. At the heart of BuildaBridge's work, we center healing and infuse hope through creative process and community building. We had the opportunity to design and implement a unique, arts based program for human service providers. We emphasized the need to replenish ourselves in creative ways in order to cultivate self efficacy and resilience needed in the work of providing care for clients and community members. As a Restorative Teaching Artist who co-facilitated numerous Arts of Self Care workshops, I witnessed the way people found creative possibilities in their rhythms of work and rest. During our workshops, it was remarkable for me to see the integration of each artistic modality and to see how the skills developed in one artistic medium complemented the principles in another. These interdisciplinary connections allowed for a holistic, dimensional experience of self care. Not only did the workshop series make critical connections between neurological, visual, and kinesthetic ways of knowing, but it invited community participation and accountability around practicing self care. Each participant was gifted with a self care starter kit and was invited at the end of the workshop to create a self care plan with a colleague. Each workshop created opportunities to share stories and to engage in creative play. Participants often shared memories and remarks on their sources of inspiration and vitality. In the midst of a paradigm shift, we found a way to use our virtual platform to seed hope and creativity in and beyond the greater Philadelphia area through music, visual art, dance, theater, writing, and more. With limitations in place, we put our creativity to work to center healing and infuse hope in service of care.

About Belle: Mariadela Belle Alvarez (she/they/ella) is a Latinx dancer-artivista-cultural organizer. Born in Honduras, raised in the Philippines and having come of age in Philadelphia, Alvarez creates and collaborates with the belief that dance is futuristic technology for organizing, healing and liberation. Her professional level practice is rooted in Afro Latin, Yorchha, Capoeira Angola, House, and western postmodern. READ MORE ABOUT BELLE HERE.

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