KIDS TRE ® project in local Cape Town township.
Our country has been facing painful truths over the past few weeks about the extent of gender-based violence and ongoing xenophobic attacks. At Prospect Hill, we join with those who stand against this violence and its effects. We support working together to counter these and to create a safer more equitable world which celebrates life’s diversity.
One of the effects of violence, is on our central nervous systems, which can get locked into a flight/ fight/ freeze response. According to Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, when we are in flight/fight/ shut down, we lose access to the Social Engagement circuits in our brain. These help us to connect to, empathise with and support each other. We need to keep finding ways to regulate our nervous systems and release trauma and stress so we can keep joining together to change our stories. Working with our bodies, using TRE® (Tension Release Exercises), is one way to do this.
Recently, two directors of Prospect Hill, Frances Ward and Bob Jean-Jacques, along with Chris van Rhyn, started a TRE® outreach at Projekt Ubuntu, a day care centre for children in a local township, Masiphumelele.
TRE® is a powerful body modality that has helped a wide variety of people to cope better with the demands of life. The modality, through a series of stretches, accesses the body’s natural release mechanism in the form of tremors. With time, these tremors return the body’s nervous system to a state of balance, moving the person out of survival mode characterised by the flight, fight or freeze response, to a state of parasympathetic functioning, where empathy, spaciousness in thinking and being is opened up in human functioning.
Research is showing that after a minimum of about 3 months of TRE® sessions, there are many improvements to general wellbeing and physical/ mental health. David Berceli, the founder, explains TRE® clearly and provides lists of completed research on his website.
In 2007, after xenophobic attacks in Cape Town, South African, Candi Horgan, and partner, Sidney Ryan, started social enterprise Projekt Ubuntu to assist local communities in the outskirts of Cape Town. Ubuntu in the African tradition means Humanity to others. “I am what I am because of who we all are”.
It is only too apparent that township life exposes young people to violence, family separation, unemployment, substance abuse, and many other threatening circumstances. TRE® is a natural antidote to the long-term effects on the human organism of such stressors.
Projekt Ubuntu caters for 60 to 100 kids daily. It aims to help families who lack resources for day care. The program is run by one mama, Patishwe Ngoku. She is assisted by international volunteers from Candi and Sidney’s volunteer centre, Yoga Shala. The staff and volunteers offer safe, stimulating, educative programs including healthy meals and emotional support as many of the children have lived through real experiences of trauma.
Frances says of of the TRE® project: “My experience of running this 12-week pro bono pilot project in May 2019 was that I was part of something bigger than me. The ethos of Ubuntu was tangible at the centre. Myself and TRE® providers, Chris Van Rhyn, Bobby Jean-Jacques along with trainee Estelle Visagie ran 12 weekly groups for the kids between the ages of 7 and 12. All of them live in Masiphumelele and many of them had been through trauma.
“Weekly we would arrive with the kids swarming around my car, helping to carry in the yoga mats and props, laughing, singing, shouting and dancing. Their enthusiasm and need for attention and touch was visible. Because many of the kids do not speak or understand English that well, we had to get into the kids world through play. We were creative in teaching the stretches, adapting to the language of children, and the kids loved the playfulness of this.”
After six weeks of tremoring, the positive feedback was encouraging. Staff members, mamas who had been with the program for some years reported these changes:
Basic changes such as sleep improvements; a general calm and happiness; a decrease in bullying thus allowing victims of bullies to return to the centre. Those who had been through trauma and who were involved in court processes, actually found their voices to be able to report their experiences thereby allowing justice to be done. After just six weeks real, tangible change had occurred. The following six weeks brought similar results.
Have a look at this videoto see more of the amazing work being done. As with most charities, Projekt Ubuntu is stretched. If anyone can help, we would appreciate it. Any TRE® providers who are interested in working on this project and contributing to gathering research in the field of TRE® for kids, please also make contact with Frances Ward or Candi Horgan.
– Frances Ward & Robert Jean-Jacques, directors at Prospect Hill
Prospect Hill is excited to announce the launch of its ONLINE Recovery Assistant Course in 2020that will run concurrently with the popular, stimulating and informative face-to-face course. For more information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org