Nicole Scott, a short-term fellow at Hope for Justice Cambodia, spent time during October 2016 introducing the students at Shine Career School to a variety of enjoyable, stress-relieving and confidence-boosting fitness and mindfulness techniques. During the programme, the students took part in new and exciting activities while developing their personal confidence and skills. This process helps each survivor feel supported, encouraged and empowered throughout their the long-term journey of restoration. Below are Nicole’s thoughts, as told to Josephine Rees, on why her trauma-informed fitness and mindfulness course is having such a positive impact on survivors.
The journey to wholeness
In a very simple way, a common denominator of trauma is a disconnect from our bodies and a reduced capacity to be present in the here and now.
By discovering resources that help us to re-engage with our bodies in healthy and healing ways, we can incorporate a number of guides to help us on a recovery to wholeness.
Yoga, trauma-informed fitness and mindfulness are beautiful and well-proven outlets. They help re-engage our bodies and invite a sense of understanding, self-compassion, and encouragement into present-moment experiences. They can help to provide systematic ways to begin re-establishing feelings of well-being.
I always played sports as a kid and was a fitness instructor for years. I’ve come back to wanting to teach fitness in the past year but with a very different emphasis.
As I’ve gone through many injuries and dealt with my own set of traumas, I’ve had quite the evolution of my own fitness and wellness routines with a renewed understanding of the role they can play in my life.
Meeting Hope for Justice
I had the opportunity to become connected to Hope for Justice through a serendipitous encounter with James and Athena Pond at Dogeared headquarters in Culver City, California. After some great conversations it seemed like a great fit to see what we could pool together. After many chats with Stacy Biggs, Hope for Justice Country Director in Cambodia, we started to come up with some ideas that could tie in physical fitness elements with the programs they currently have running with the girls. The hope is always to be able to add any type of value while also creating a valuable learning experience.
While it’s such a short time and a portion of it truly must be spent getting to know the girls and teams, the goal is to ultimately provide options that can be integrated into the current programs and systems.
There’s an established relationship with some fitness centers here in Cambodia, so the goal we’ve been working on is how to bridge the gap between getting the girls to those fitness centers and having more routine and creating a baseline of activities that the staff who are there with them day-in, day-out can incorporate. I hope to begin establishing workable options that the staff and girls can use long after I’m gone that create some baseline options to help the girls become stronger and more empowered.
I so deeply admire the work that the teams here in Cambodia are doing in such a restorative way. It’s a phenomenal opportunity for me to learn as well and that’s really exciting.
“I cannot share the details of these beautiful girls. I can’t share names, or detailed stories of their survival. I can’t show the details of their beautiful smiles or the differences in their laughs. This is a time in life I’d argue that details are not the difference. How they’ve come together individually and as a group is what’s unique and great and worth sharing.”
It’s wonderful to be here with Hope for Justice and its amazing team. A big thank you to everyone here for really making me feel so welcome and helping me to get adjusted to life and the ebb and flow of things out here in Phnom Penh.
Nicole was born and raised in Hawaii, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Sport Science from Oregon State University. She is in the final year of her master’s programme in Social Entrepreneurship and Change at Pepperdine University, California, and has over 10 years of professional experience in the health and wellness industry.
Words and photography: Josephine Rees and Nicole Scott