My name is Richard Baker. I coordinate mental health services at the Homewood Center in Howard County. Homewood is the only alternative public school in the County. We have two programs, Gateway and Bridges, which function under the umbrella of Homewood. Gateway is a behavior management program for middle and high school-aged students with intensive behavioral and academic challenges. The Bridges program is a special education program for students with emotional disabilities. While individual, group, and family counseling are integrated into the Bridges program, which is driven by the student's Individual Educations Plan (IEP), Gateway students receive counseling services through community mental helath providers, who are hired contractually through the school system.
I have known Nysia Wilhite since the spring of 2009, when we interviewed her about conducting a Dance Group for our female students. In recent years, we have experienced success with non-traditional therapeutic approaches, such as yoga, are, drum circles, and character education. These modalities supplement our more traditional therapies, such as individual, group, and family counseling.
Ms. Wilhite presented us with information about her program, Dance Solutions, that is dedicated to bringing an all inclusive quality artistic program to adolescents. Ms. Wilhite led a 4-session pilot group with 12 students from our Gateway and Bridges programs at Homewood. The sessions were held on April 15, April 22, May 6, and May 13 during the school day. Ms. Wilhite taught different styles of dance, combining poetry and singing to the session. In addition to exposing our students to the arts, the pilot program offered therapeutic benefits, such as stress relief, a healthy outlet for anger and frustration, and an opportunity to enhance self-esteem through artistic expression. Since many of our students are kinesthetic learners, the program promoted the strengths of our students.
All of the girls who were recruited for the group were active participants and were enthusiastic about continuing the sessions for the 2009-2010 school year. This summer, we met with Ms. Wilhite to plan for two 10-session dance groups for the fall and spring, respectively. The sessions will be held on the same days and times as our drum circle. At the conclusion of each group, a collaborative performance will be held during the Homewood Family Night in January.
Ms. Wilhite presented as a most competent group facilitator, who was energetic, encouraging, and patient with the students who attended the pilot sessions. We are eager to have her return to Homewood in the fall to continue our partnership.
Richard H. Baker, LCSW-C
School Mental Health Specialist
10914 Route 108
Ellicott City, Maryland 21042
Fax: (410) 313-7130
Nysia Wilhite-Carter is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer who is passionate about exposing people to the art of dance which is why she created Dance Solutions, a company aimed at bringing dance to the majority. Dance Solutions subdivision, Dance Solutions Youth Outreach, is the portion of the company that contracts out to local schools, universities, recreation centers, non-profits, and the such to reach all children no matter where. Currently DS works through Howard County School Board and Howard County Recreation and Parks.
In addition to the company's many outreach initiatives, they have expanded into the fitness arena with various fitness and health certifications. This expansion has allowed the company to offer businesses company health incentive plans, employee/group packages, give comprehensive master classes that includes all areas of wellness, and eventually establish a franchise partnership with Brickhouse Cardio Club.
Dance Solutions and Dance Solutions Youth Outreach aims to serve the community by helping one person at a time live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
If you would like more information on any of the services, please fill out the form on the contact page.