WALNUT CREEK--Amy Lynch has spent about 30 years helping people appreciate their bodies through mindful movement. So when the Walnut Creek Pilates instructor heard about the plight of young girls who were once victims of sex trafficking, she began to educate herself on what's being done and what more can be done to help these girls.
A few years ago, Lynch decided to put her skills as a Pilates instructor to teach a class in Oakland to raise funds for Not for Sale, a nonprofit campaign against human trafficking. She also has utilized her skills as a movement specialist to help these rescued children bring compassionate awareness to their bodies and discover the emotional connection associated with that awareness.
"What I do with adults as well as with the girls in class is having them appreciate the bodies they live in," said Lynch, who's been teaching Pilates at Sports Basement to the general public for five years.
She established ARM (Art Recreation Movement) of Care last year "to use creative arts to restore and empower individuals who have been exploited through human trafficking."
Lynch said that with the help of her fellow volunteers, these young people can rediscover their value as human beings through movement, artistic and recreational activities.
"Because they've been abused, they haven't been taking care of their bodies,"
Lynch said. "I believe when people take care of their bodies, they can take care of themselves."
To continue to increase awareness about human trafficking and to help raise money to help abused young people in the community, Lynch will offer "Pilates for a Purpose" at various locations and times on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Classes will be open to the public, and those who come will have the chance to donate money to the cause.
"We're going to try to give girls their childhoods back," said Lynch, who teaches Movement classes to abuse survivors at a Pilates studio in Oakland.
"They have the right to experience the fullness of life."
Lynch also teaches the caregivers of abuse survivors "because anyone who takes care of these girls needs to also take care of themselves," she said.
Debra Brown, founder and CEO of the anti-human-trafficking campaign Pillars of Hope, Inc. based in Antioch, said she has met members of the ARM of Care team at this year's Freedom Summit, a Bay Area-wide event to stop human trafficking.
"It started a partnership that has been amazing; we attend each other's training sessions and events," Brown said.
"Their specialized training has enabled us to fully experience what their team will be offering to our rescued girls. They use creative arts therapies to help restore sexually-exploited youth, helping them heal from the life they were forced to endure. The public needs to come to 'Pilates for a Purpose' to offer their support and encouragement for what this group is endeavoring to do in combating human trafficking locally."
Heidi Holm of Brentwood volunteers with ARM of Care to help abuse survivors redefine themselves and cultivate self-worth through art. Holm helped the young people create messenger bags out of used jeans with the message that "anything (used) can be made new."
Survivors of abuse often think they're "damaged," Holm said. But ARM of Care
helps young people to see that there's hope and healing through movement exercises, recreation and art.
"Amy has been fabulous when it comes to nonverbal healing through movement
and art," said Holm, a friend of Lynch's.
"Sometimes you don't have words for healing that takes place or the damage that has been done to you. We teach girls how to heal their bodies through art, creating a new memory with that activity."
One such activity includes "body mapping," in which young people trace each others' bodies on a large sheet of paper then fill the tracings with words, drawings and colors.
"One girl kept filling all the edges of her drawing with words," Holm said. "Another girl did not know what to write so the others wrote nice things for her and she cried."
Holm said the public can help these young survivors continue to heal by coming out and supporting "Pilates for a Purpose" and learning what ARM of Care has done and will continue to do to aid in their healing process.
"People may not realize that these are girls are living in our communities," she said.
"'Pilates for a Purpose' is a nice way to deliver healing through movement. People get to experience what movement is with ARM of Care.
"When you receive something, you understand what we're trying to do to help these girls heal."