VIRL’s work with Dandelion Dance™ blossoms into partnership that continues to help communities today

January 11, 2021

​What started off as a brainstorming session for a program that would engage hard-to-reach teens in Nanaimo, has now blossomed into a five-year strong community partnership that continues to help children across our service area today.

Following a generous grant of $12,000 from the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) in 2017, then Librarian, Jason Kuffler and former VIRL Librarian Caitlin Ottenbriet worked with Hannah Beach, founder and director of Dandelion Dance™ to give 12 teen girls in Nanaimo a unique opportunity to experience the healing and expressive powers of dance.

“Dance sessions were hosted at the Harbourfront branch, with our Creativity Commons team stepping in to assist with the tools to record the final project,” said Jason.

“We had really great feedback from not only the audience and the families, but also from VIHA who were really happy to see the important work we were doing,” said Hannah.

Hannah then applied for an additional grant from VIHA to reach a broader spectrum of people, who could use her approach in their own communities.

“Rather than just using the work specifically for girls, I thought what could people do that takes the essence of the work and brings it to a library or to schools for children of all ages,” said Hannah.

Hannah received the additional grant in the summer of 2019 and soon began hands-on workshops where she taught her Dandelion Approach™ to librarians, teachers and educators, and the Aboriginal Infant Development Program of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

Library Manager Anthony Martin worked with Hannah to bring her workshop to the Harbourfront branch for VIRL librarians to take part, and was the on-site host while the workshop took place.

“The workshop teaches participants how to build relationships with kids and understand the importance of attachment and what that may look like with really challenging kids, and also to understand a bit more about anxiety and aggression,” said Hannah.

With the year-long grant now complete, Hannah continues to teach her approach in schools across the country, and has left VIRL librarians with the framework and essential tools to continue to connect with children and youth in our communities.

“It has been an extraordinary experience working with the library,” said Hannah. “It’s incredible to see how invested the librarians were, how engaged they were, and how important stories are as a part of that process. Librarians couldn’t have been a better group to teach.”

Watch Hannah’s Train-the-Trainers workshop in action and hear from some of our staff in this video below:

Please note this video was recorded in January and February 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.