WomenStrong-DC uses “body-mapping” as a means of allowing women to process their own experiences and gain a deeper self-awareness. In the latest workshop, participants created a life-size canvas of themselves filled with their stories, hopes, traumas and dreams of their own lives. The outlines of the women’s bodies were created by tracing their bodies onto a canvas. The women then painted or glued various significant images, phrases, keepsakes and other items onto the body maps that were meaningful to them.
One participant in WSDC’s recent Body-Mapping class said that when she began the program, she didn’t “feel so good emotionally” and that initially, she didn’t even feel like leaving her house to attend the sessions. But Ms. Geraldine, 66, pushed through those fears to attend, because she knew she would find community in the workshop from other participants, WSDC staff and the art instructors. Putting things and people she valued on her body map, such as her loved ones and her church, helped her feel good about participating.
Geraldine felt better after completing her body map and volunteered to sit at WSDC’s table during Bread for the City’s annual gala. Two body maps were on display, although Geraldine isn’t usually comfortable talking to people she doesn’t know, she spoke with several potential donors about their possibly sponsoring the donation of athletic clothes for the WSDC program.
Through her increasingly active participation in WSDC programming, Ms. Geraldine has formed close relationships with other WSDC participants. Equally exciting, after signing up for the WSDC program, working closely with her Wellness Coordinator and with Bread for the City’s Housing Access program, Ms. Geraldine has finally obtained long-awaited affordable housing — a critical key to a stable, grounded life in the city.