Kelly Gray, Director of the Wisdom & Movement Center
Jessica Morell is a DONA certified Birth Doula, a Lamaze certified Childbirth Educator and she holds an International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) certification in prenatal fitness. She is the creator and director of The RISE workshop, an early sex-ed class for ‘tween’ girls.
Jes, as she goes by, will be one of Thrive’s on-site massage therapists, teaching families the art of infant massage and offering her RISE workshop at our Wisdom and Movement Center. I sat down with Jes to discuss her workshop and why it’s so important to guide and support our young daughters as they transition through puberty.
Kelly: What is the Rise Workshop and who is it for?
Jes: RISE is an acronym for Reproductive Information/Scientific Education, and is a reproductive self-awareness and self empowerment class for tween girls, generally ages 9 – 13. The class is designed for young women entering puberty. In a comprehensive, nurturing and informative environment, girls are introduced to an overview of the anatomy of their reproductive systems. The class continues with an in-depth explanation of menses and the physical, emotional and psychological changes girls may be feeling at this important time in their lives.
Kelly: How might young women benefit from taking this workshop?
Jes: Young women may enter the class feeling anxious or shy about talking about these personal subjects but they leave feeling joyful, informed and empowered because they understand from a scientific perspective exactly what is happening in their bodies. They also get a chance to express, through the spirit portrait that is created as part of each workshop, their emotions, feelings and responses regarding this amazing time in their lives.
Kelly: As an educator, what’s your favorite part of running this workshop?
Jes: The sheer joy and fun I see the girls express once they realize they are truly in a safe and supportive environment. They have so many questions that they don’t always even know how to put into words. So often the girls are ‘creeped out’ by talking about things like tampons and their periods. By the end of the workshop they often glue the tampons opened like blossoms, onto their spirit portraits or just generally express ease and confidence with the material. This fills my heart with gladness!
Kelly: How is education and support like your workshop different from the support you and your peers received while growing up?
Jes: I was horrified to have such personal material, I felt very, very shy about my period as a young women, discussed in a co-ed class room by a male teacher who was insensitive, abrupt and dismissive of the realities that young women face at this time in their lives. So many women my age did not get good, comprehensive or helpful information about what was happening with our bodies, as young women. We were not taught with respect, sensitivity or care about how confusing, bewildering and exciting all these changes can be. I’m deeply committed to providing this most important of information in respectful and nurturing way.