Reiki at the Juvenile Jail

As a means to spread the word about complementary therapies within populations in need, I volunteered to orchestrate an entire wellness fair for the staff of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center as part of their Health and Wellness training week. 

JTDC is the largest free-standing juvenile detention center in the nation. It has a capacity for 382 youth aged 13 - 21, all waiting their court dates—sometimes for years. It includes a high school for those residents who spend a significant part of their adolescence incarcerated. The center is staffed by roughly 250 full-time employees. It's safe to say the residents of this facility are under a great deal of stress, and the atmosphere can be tense on a daily basis. The staff are also under stress, and their wellbeing sets the tone (and therefore dictates quality of life) for the entire community.  

I put out a call not only to the Reiki Brigade, but to lots of practitioners of complementary therapies so the 50 or so guests could try our various approaches and learn about new ways to combat stress. Turns out I know a lot of fabulous people who were willing to step up to help this population. Look at that gorgeous group!

After we passed through the metal detectors and assembled in the auditorium, we made our introductions and went to work. 

Sara Johnston, my craniosacral teacher, was there offering up her healing gifts alongside Ellen, Tribe owner and constant source of support (and humor). They made a lot of friends that day. 


It was my first time working alongside Barbara Habschmidt, a therapeutic hypnotist. I wasn't sure how well that would go over, but she was busy all day and I kept hearing great things about the small group sessions she offered. The guests were open to try anything, and they were rewarded with wonderful experiences. 

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Astera Manis was there offering Energy Tapping instruction and had people doing a few simple self-care exercises. It was fun to have a movement component alongside the stationary options. 

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Thiera Smith and Lisa Alvarez were offering ear acupuncture to groups of ten at a time. Here's Thiera answering great questions from interested guard staff. 

And here's Lisa monitoring folks with needles in for questions, concerns, and the rare possibility of someone falling out of their chair due to a healing, acupuncture-induced, trance. The gentleman in the middle was pretty relaxed. 

Laura Folkes was there offering one-on-one health coaching sessions, helping people rethink the process of incorporating healthier habits. 

And of course we were there offering reiki to everyone who would try it, which was almost everyone. We were all amazed at how receptive the crowd was and it made our experience all the more rewarding. 

And here's the note I received later that day, from my contact inside the jail:

Before time passes, please extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to your crew. It was an amazing day and the staff were so grateful.

And many, many thanks to YOU for providing such an amazing resource. I hope you have a great evening and we will talk soon.

Department of Programs and Professional Services

Thank you, Anna, for your open-mindedness and for championing our efforts to shift the wellness paradigm to include more mind/body services. Now let's see if we can do the same for the youth incarcerated at the JTDC...

Here's to raising awareness and availability of the benefits of reiki!
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