18 Oct

A Flow Class for Recently-Arrested Youth by Alex Barbour

Written by
  In October 2012, Creation Flame's Outreach Coordinator Alex Barbour started a theraputic poi-spinning class for kids in juvenile detention in Austin.  Listen to her describe how this awesome class came into being in her own words.


One night at the beginning of the summer, I had a stimulating dream. I dreamt of a criminal justice system that concentrated its financial resources on providing healing opportunities for its arrestees rather than power-trip punishment. A system that valued the light inside of humanity, no matter what darkness overshadowed it. A system that took creative initiative in this vision, with a welcoming amount of room for further evolution. 

When I awoke (or perhaps I have still yet to awaken), the thought in my mind was Flow Arts. I continue nurturing a personal suspicion that Flow Arts is going to save the world. You see, I am employed by a private company who puts leg monitors on juveniles, adult Pre-Trial and adult Probation. One of my assigned responsibilities is to be the company face for the juveniles, creating a bridge of understanding in how to escape the gripping teeth of the Machine. With this context, I envisioned starting this visionary push in the Travis County Juvenile Detention facility. I wasn't too sure of any of the inner systemic workings of it, so I was rather intimidated at the task. I began by unofficially presenting this dream I had to some probation officers I had developed solid relationships with. Fairly quickly, I was synchronistically led to the Program Director of the Day Enrichment Program, a 12-week Travis County school for kids in trouble for drugs to make up course credits missed while in detention.

When I got there, the only activities outside of basic education was a drug education class and some group "therapy" circles. No physical activity. No ongoing creative ventures. The perfect blank slate. Amidst my insecurities and perceived judgements from the Director, I breathed myself into my passion for what I wanted to present. Upon completion of my unplanned shpeel, she couldn't help but express her excitement and relief that a partial solution may exist! She was, to my amazement, immediately receptive (even emotionally so!) to the vision of how Flow Arts would be absolutely perfect for this program. The manipulation of props as an effective therapy of moving meditation, in which the participant doesn't need to concentrate on specific memories or frustrations. One where the participants can heal themselves without even trying. She had me write an official proposal for the County to approve it, and four weeks later we received that seal of approval. The dream was in motion. I was, and have continued to be, rigorously praised for this creative approach from high places in the Criminal Justice System. The County had never conceived of something like this before, and it had been desperate to find a program that could actual enact change. 

The first class was on Friday, October 5th, 2012. Two of my favorite spinners, Jamal and Travis, enthusiastically went forth to blow the minds of kids who had been treated like lost causes for all of their time in the System. Kids who have never been exposed to such a way of expressing themselves. Of healing themselves. Of connecting with others in a non-competitive manner, immersed in inevitable partner flow. Of being gifted an opportunity to do something besides listening to reasons why they should change their criminal behaviors. It was extremely well-received, and even the adults at the facility have been taken aback in utter astonishment! 

This world from my dream...it has already been birthed. The soil is fertile NOW. It is only a matter of carrying momentum and upholding inspiration. 

I encourage ALL to dream out loud. Share your visions. The majority of humans ALL WANT THE SAME THING, and would gladly embrace an opportunity to be a part of manifesting a dream. KNOW this, deep within you. I had absolutely no experience of creating a class of any kind before this venture. I am not particularly unique or well-suited in this field. Creating a change is never as complicated as we make it out to be, especially when we align our Selves to a higher vision of the New Earth of compassionate activism. 

May you amplify your Self without Fear. <3

Alex Barbour

Wesley Thoricatha

Creation Flame President and Co-founder, Permaculture Designer, Artist
Biography: Wesley Thoricatha