Community, People

New organization advocates for movement in school

September 24, 2020

Traci Scheepstra

Movement plays a crucial role in the education of children. However, it’s been largely ignored as a learning tool in the school system.

Western Education instructor, Traci L. Scheepstra, Ph.D., along with her daughter Rachel Belliveau, are doing something to fill this gap. They’ve created Embodied Learnings – a not-for-profit organization that advocates for the inclusion of the body in the elementary curriculum and classroom environment through dance education and movement integration.

“We fill a gap in education that’s been widely neglected,” said Scheepstra. “The body is a source of wisdom that is critical to knowing the self, how we communicate with others and understand the world around us, and how we identify and manage our emotions.”

The organization provides teachers, teacher candidates, dance specialists, mental health leads and support staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to educate students from the inside out, including bringing awareness of the impact that embodied experiences can have on student learning, healthy relationships, student wellness and an inclusive and welcoming learning community that creates thriving school cultures.

Although we make the connections through dance education and movement integration, we are much more than just an arts-based not-for-profit,” said Scheepstra.

The organization provides teachers with activities, lessons, video demonstrations, music playlists and a weekly series called “Body Talk,” featuring interviews with educators, scholars, dancers/choreographers, movement specialists, and others, on various topics related to their mission. Embodied Learnings is also developing a number of workshops and courses that will be launching in the near future. The goal is for teachers to easily integrate dance education and movement into their curriculum and daily class schedule.

“We provide innovative and evidence-based resources that have been created by experienced teachers, teacher candidates, and movement experts,” said Scheepstra. “Each resource goes through a comprehensive research and development process before we develop it.”

The organization launched in August 2020, after a year in the development stage. So far, 28 teacher candidates at Western participated through their Alternative Field Experience placements to create resources, in both English and French.

Scheepstra is an Assistant Professor for the Bachelor of Education Program at Western University and an educational researcher and elementary dance education specialist. She has close to three decades of teaching experience and her work focuses on curriculum, pedagogy and research in the fields of arts-based education, mental health and wellness, restorative practices, conflict resolution and communication, safe school initiatives, and equity and inclusion.

Visit the Embodied Learnings website.