“Our Workforce Development Program is about more than construction skills,” says Workforce Education Coordinator, Ruth Cedar Face. “It’s also about helping the participants become successful in life.”
This month, our Workforce Development Through Sustainable Construction Program spent significant time working on building up themselves in addition to building houses. Our 15 program participants took part in two different trainings, one through Native P.R.I.D.E. (Prevention, Research, Intervention, Development, Education) and one through the Trauma Center. Each training centered on developing personal skills for better wellness in life.
Their first training, The Good Road of Life: A Curriculum for Native Families, is offered through Native P.R.I.D.E., “an American Indian 501c3 non-profit organization that offers outstanding culture-based programs that focus on prevention, wellness and leadership development.” Taught by lead trainer, Dr. Clayton Small, the course had participants follow a multi-day curriculum that covered a wide range of topics. Delving into conversations about issues like colonization and racism helped participants identify what these concepts mean and how they manifest in their lives and choices. Applying these conversations to real life scenarios, Dr. Small then had students do role-playing.
“The role-playing really helped us think about what we should do when we get in a difficult situation,” said participant Kira Snider. “I liked all these activities he was doing since they kind of got me out of my shell and I got to know my peers way better.”
Although the training dealt with heavy, emotional subjects, there were also fun activities that helped participants stay engaged and learn to enjoy the process of working through difficult conversations.
“Mixing together fun and interactive competitions with some of these heavier conversations keeps participants from getting too overwhelmed and reminds them that taking care of themselves can help them move past that feeling of “stuckness,” says Ruth. “Feelings like shame, whether intergenerational or not, can make us hold ourselves back or not reach our full potential. Learning to see what emotion is masking feelings of shame or inadequacy helps people recognize how to confront it and move past it.”
The second training also examined how to identify and process emotions, especially related to one’s self. Taught by the Trauma Center’s Morgan Vanderpool, the Trauma Sensitive Yoga training lasted for an entire week. Much of the training focused on teaching your body to be okay with where it is at, since many people that endure trauma often don’t feel comfortable even in their own bodies.
“Her work really showed that movement can be healing,” said Ruth. “Breathing, gentle movements, stretching –– getting comfortable in your own space and your own body help teach your body that it is okay where it is at.”
When not addressed, past trauma can pull individuals back to when they experienced the initial trauma, making it feel hard to feel safe even when no threat is present in the immediate moment. By learning to be present and aware in one’s own body during these times helps ground an individual in the current moment. This grounding can also help participants cope with every day stress. By learning the physiological signals that are associated with stress the participants are more able to alleviate the intensity of stress through movements that release the tension in their bodies.
“Morgan was really comfortable to talk to,” said Kira. “I really loved the yoga, I just, it made me feel real good and I was real stressed that week so it really helped lift some of that stress off my shoulders.”