Melissa Michaels, Ed.D., has been leading groups of girls since she was 9 years old, always guarding and guiding the younger ones in her midst. At 12 years old, she ran her first summer camp and by 15 years old, she was conducting informal girls’ gatherings in her home on Saturday afternoons. The conversations always ran deep, navigating along the edges of subjects and secrets the “adults” were clearly not comfortable having. Changing bodies. Emotions expressing. Menstrual flow. Longing for connection. Sexual exploration. Pleasure. Pain. Passion. Souls stirring.
Melissa recognized the risks inherent in not educating and initiating our youth into healthy adulthood. Her work began in her own ravaged teenage body and as she did her own healing work, it grew to serve her three daughters and the communities around them. She dedicated her life to creating safer and inspired spaces for young people to come of age. Nearly four decades later, the creative steps for welcoming, initiating, educating, and birthing young people home to themselves has reached 1000’s of youth around the world in culturally respectful and ever more inclusive ways.
Melissa’s programs and mentoring encourage healthy awareness and expression of one’s body, heart and soul. She has developed community programs that inspire the early adolescent to make thoughtful choices and the older youth to discover their power in doing so. Many of the youth who have completed her programs are stepping into leadership, bringing dance, social literacy, and awareness of the vast power of embodied, creative consciousness into their communities, from villages in South India, to refugee settlements in Uganda, to college campuses across the United States, to Oglala Lakota Sioux Reservation, to favelas in Brazil, to peace studies programs, to orphans in Zimbabwe, to to young people living on the streets, to the United Nations, to educational settings in over 20 countries.
Body-centered programs for educators, youth workers, parents, and therapists have also been developed and extensively implemented, training adults about how to heal their own inner adolescent and to support their children and youth in creative expression, respect, and empowerment through the body. Melissa’s book, Youth On Fire: Igniting a Generation of Embodied Global Leaders shares the story of her work with young people around the world in story, principle, and practice.
To learn more about Melissa: please see her full bio here.