Dr. Imani Maa’t – Health Scientist
A Synopsis of Dr. Imani’s Work in Her Own Words
I started Healthy Haiku Workshops for teens many years ago in order to teach about health and wellness to teens and families in a way that was fun and stimulated their creativity through poetry and drama. Over the past 2 years I have been blessed with an opportunity to teach the Healthy Haiku curriculum in the DeKalb County Jail -Options for Living and Learning Program to female and then male inmates. I was recently given the opportunity to Direct the Options for Living and Learning Program and to bring in some additional instructors that have made a huge difference in this program. In addition to the classes on reading, writing, math, Thinking for a Change, Soccer, Employment info, Yoga, Sexual Healing (HIV and Safe Sex information) and Life Skills (an incredible curriculum); we have added Law of Attraction, Sound Meditation, Spanish, a Better Way and Better Day, Anger Management and More. We also have a Detention Officer who was so impressed with the program that he asked to join the teaching faculty – and what powerful contributions he has made. We had a staff holiday gathering recently and all of the instructors spoke of their gratitude for being gifted with this opportunity to teach this population. Even for me, now there full time, it doesn’t feel like work – it feels like the most awesome opportunity to share kindness and to be touched by humanity in a way that we could have never dreamed into existence.
Example of a poem written by one of the female inmates:
But there’s too much smoke in between.
I’ve been searching for the Light
It seems so far-fetched maybe too extreme.
I’m searching for the Light
Which seems beyond my fingertips.
Still searching for the Light
I still can’t seem to see.
Searching for the Light
Which has always been within Me!*
So for me, the dream was to expand Healthy Haiku Workshops all over the country and in fact all over the world. What has come to me recently is that this is a part of a larger mission that needs to be spread across the globe in support of incarcerated and disenfranchised people who can benefit from these types of lessons that are being shared in the DeKalb County Jail through the Options for Living and Learning Program. Hats off to Sheriff Jeffrey Mann and outgoing Administrative Chief Xernia Fortson for having the desire to create something real and to reduce recidivism in this population. Many of our students have been failed by school systems and communities that weren’t designed or equipped to empower them to stand in their power and to become exemplary citizens! Some just made really bad choices regardless of their education and upbringing.
I encourage you to dream big as we go into this new year. Be open to the magic, the blessings, the amazing unexpected things that can happen in your life for you and for the benefit of others! Get out of the box – in fact, there is no box! Just believe in yourself and your passions and move forward! Remember to eat healthy foods and drink lots of water to nourish your temple! Sending you all Love and LIght and continued Success on your Journey!
*Coming this Spring: Poems from the Pen: Liberating Incarcerated Minds with Ho’oponopono, Poetry
and other Tools: Pathways to Zero Limits.