To support its emphasis on community health, Healing Spirits will hold three events this week to support healing from substance abuse, give people a way to describe their journey through poetry and teach leadership skills to youth.
Healing Spirits is the aftercare program for Peaceful Spirit Treatment Center, which provides residential and outpatient treatment for adults struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.
“We’re a peer-facilitated and peer-inspired group,” said Esther Belin, the intake and aftercare coordinator for Healing Spirits, which was founded in October. “We’re a movement focused on community health, that’s the umbrella we operate under, and we ask what community health would look like.”
Activities include a dinner and panel on the “Journey of Healing” on Thursday, a dinner and Community Poetry Slam in honor of National Poetry Month on Friday and a Children’s Pow Wow on Saturday.
“We’re trying to dispel the stereotype of what recovery is,” Belin said, “because it includes relapses. There’s such a stigma attached to it. Our emphasis is to keep moving forward, even if the steps are slow, and bring somebody along with you.”
The panel on Thursday will include Southern Ute tribal members Martin Pinnecoose, SkyDawn Sandoval and Mikki Naranjo along with Ute Mountain Ute tribal member Marettas Frost.
Working with tribal members isn’t just focusing on their personal stories, she said.
“Often they’re affected because of historic trauma to native people,” she said.
For the Community Poetry Slam, Belin and Sandoval, who is an intern at Peaceful Spirit, have visited the Native Studies classes at the Ignacio Middle and High schools, she said, teaching through videos of other youth poetry slams and the poetry of Tanaya Winder, author of Worlds Like Love.
“She’s a contemporary local voice,” Belin said about Winder, who traces her heritage to the Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone and Pyramid Lake Shoshone nations. A copy of Winder’s book is one of the prizes at the slam.
The Children’s Pow Wow will be run by children from the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes, with an eighth-grader as emcee and an 11th-grader serving as arena director.
“This is a lot about teaching them leadership skills,” Belin said, “because young people need practice in traditional areas like the pow-wow arena. They’ll still have mentors there, but we want to let them do it.”