Our programs are holistic applications and do not recommend the use of medications, there is little danger of doing more harm. Our programs use activities that offer mindful motion-based challenges and are considered recreational: skiing, tai chi, stilts, slacklines, balance boards, and adventure walking. Our programs are structured around Geometric Behaviorism principles, principles that could help redefined what motivates all human behavior.
Community Street Tai Chi
Our tai chi program meets 4 times a week at 9:30 AM. On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday we meet outside the Salt Lake City Public Library and Rio Grande (500 w 300 s). All the groups come together on Saturdays in front of the SLC Public Safety Building. At tai chi, we provide the participants of our program with burritos, coffee, social interaction, and Tai Chi. All that is required is that they show up and participate in any way they can. Tai chi is led by individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness or have experienced homelessness in the past. (See leaders on Staff page)
Our program acknowledges this fact by respecting the idea that many homeless individuals know what success looks and feels like. We acknowledge and respect their pasts by not defining success for them, meeting them whatever they are at, letting them know they are always welcome, and including them as leaders in our program. We have never asked anyone to leave our program, everyone is welcome. The programs’ purpose is to implement new ideas about how we each discovered who we were and what did or did not work for us as we interacted with time, space, and each other. Participants in our program find their own way out of homelessness. Understanding Us just provides a safe place for the self-discovery process to happen.
We recently offered a “learn to ski” and deal with stress program for up to ten homeless individuals. Again, the focus is on motion and learning to move using a process we have created that is intended to replicate “learning to walk” in an environment that reproduces the stresses created by our intuitive fear of falling. We view skiing as a tool for creating situations that help a person learn to deal with stress. Stress that is very similar to what a person stuck in a hole might experience. Moving downhill on skis for the first time is frightening. The fear we feel is not irrational or imaginary, but real. If we are moving downhill out of control, moving faster and faster with no way to stop, we panic and eventually fall. We have no control of what is happening. We took the wrong turn and find ourselves in a hole, a deep hole, one we never think we’ll get out of.
Balance Challenge Program
In this program, we use different activities that require balance such as stilts, slacklines, balance boards, and hacky sacks. Through these activities, we hope to observe the relationship of a person’s stability (balance or degree of sway) relative to gravity and how they react to stress-producing events. This program puts a focus on using motion-based stress events in a way that helps an individual who has become lost to reconnect with their preferred way of handling stress. This helps a person recalibrate or reestablish confidence in their ability to map a positive interactive relationship with the world.
The smile that happens when someone reconnects with what works for them makes this an enjoyable rewarding program.
We believe that our organization always has room to grow in order to make a larger impact. We know the beneficial principles of our programs can extend to other populations and areas. We see potential programs working with individuals who are incarcerated, military veterans with PTSD, people with substance abuse, intellectual or learning disabilities, autism, and chronic illnesses.