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Stories from the Well

True Body in Action

Posted on 11/11/19 by Stacy in From Stacy Sims

(Scroll through photos above by clicking on the arrows in yellow)

The True Body Project was piloted in 2005 as a summer program with ArtWorks. Thirteen teen girls gathered five days a week, for six weeks, and explored their relationships to self, body and community and created both a literary journal and a documentary film.

The program has expanded to serve girls and boys, men and women, via Leadership Trainings, school programs and professional development. Here is a glimpse into a few True Body moments and reflections from our True Body team.

True Body for Boys

Thanks to our longtime partner Families Forward, we piloted a program for boys last year and have continued it at Hays-Porter Elementary this year, with Max Raphael at the helm. Max reports:

Our 5th and 6th grade boys at Hays-Porter, who are completely new to True Body, have been easing into the safety, respect and authenticity encouraged in our sessions. In one recent activity, the boys were asked to write about things that make them feel worried, sad, overwhelmed, etc. Most of them wrote a string of nothing's down the page. I walked them through the activity a little more, as a group and individually.

Soon enough, the erasers got busy around the room. The word nothing was being replaced with sentences about real worries and stresses in the boys' lives. As they acknowledged some of their difficult feelings and courageously wrote them out, I could see many of them light up, and the mood in the room lifted. One of the boys, who seemed disengaged in the beginning of the class, came up to me afterwards and told me how much he appreciated our session. I'm proud of my students for giving these new activities, and themselves, a try!

True Body for High School Seniors

Thanks to Terri Thomas at Mariemont High School, we have been invited to share True Body with seniors in her Healthy Living class for several years. This co-ed group meets weekly in the fall, during the school day. True Body facilitator Ashley Sugarman reports:

I really can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this group! Obviously the age group and being coed was a change for me — I was pleasantly surprised with how engaged the group was and with how vulnerable they were able to be with sharing/participating. I thought initially with the age group/coed that may be an issue but it wasn’t at all.

Terri Thomas says:

I feel the students gained further awareness of the importance of just taking care of self through mindfulness activities such as meditation, collaborative games, discussion, painting, journal writing etc gave them all a break from the stress of their schedules and a chance to just have fun!

Student Megan K says:

True Body Project was a great way to learn about the importance of self care while having fun and learning more about each other!

True Body for Personal Development

Many of the people who take the True Body Leadership Training course already have a strong practice of self-discovery. I am always interested in how this training lands and sustains. I asked Arts in Healing Program Coordinator and artist Jaclyn Stephens this question recently. She shared this:


I spend my life exploring the physical relationship between my body and the environment through art, permaculture, aquaculture, work, and play. These are my personal safe lenses of perception and meaning-making. Yet I tend to avoid the relationship between my mind and body; I bob around the world in a body I just haven't gotten to know.

Amidst experiencing home relocation and exiting a toxic community, Stacy's True Body workshop taught me that safe circles of people exist, that my body is a home, and that I can access a mindful reality to be with both. What I learned during the TBP Leadership Training created a green light for my inertia and to consider compassion for my trauma... my judgement for trendy wellness words dissolved. I also smiled and my back pain literally stopped! It is an understatement to say TBP gave me tools for my life work, wherever that may be. My relationships with my art-making, the environment, people, and self truly came out of the workshop more mysterious, robust, and free.

For additional information about True Body Project trainings, leadership development and school programs, contact Stacy.