From YCTY Teacher Elise Dorsett:
“The mission of Alliance Medical Ministry is to serve working uninsured adults of Wake County in need of affordable health care. When I began volunteering as a doctor to patient interpreter in 2013, I was immediately struck by how hard the staff works to provide complete care for their patients. Doctors don’t just give shots and prescribe medications. Their team has established a Wellness Program that gives patients the tools they need to make lifestyle changes to improve their overall health. A flourishing community garden on the clinic grounds offers the opportunity for patients to take home fresh food and learn healthy recipes. Diabetes and nutrition classes support patients in making healthy choices. So, when I asked Executive Director Megg Rader about offering a yoga class for patients, it was a no-brainer. In fact, she and the doctors had already been toying with the idea.
But there were challenges. The classes would need to be bilingual to accommodate the diverse patient population. And many patients work long hours, and already struggled with transportation to the clinic for their appointments. Would they be willing to come after hours to the clinic as often as once a week for a yoga class?
I decided to introduce Megg and Howie, thinking that a collaboration between Alliance Medical Ministry and You Call This Yoga would be the perfect fit to benefit the Alliance medical population. Howie jumped in enthusiastically, and his expertise in working with physically challenged and under-served communities was the engine we needed to get the program off the ground. By the end of the year we had succeeded in testing the idea with our first group of patients, and the feedback was overwhelming. The students loved the classes. They had learned accessible exercises to strengthen muscles, and relax body and mind. They were thrilled to learn new ways to take their health into their own hands.
After observing Howie during those initial sessions, and translating for his classes, I have begun to teach the weekly classes at the clinic. With each class, I learn just as much as the students! My 200-hour teacher training was in the Ashtanga Vinyasa style of yoga, so teaching Chair yoga is a new and transformative experience for me. I feel grateful to be able to provide yoga as part of a holistic approach to health for those who wouldn’t otherwise have access.”