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Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 83 • If a student is sick, alert the school nurse. "What's going on for you today?" is all you need to ask when a student or staff member shows up. We are not there to counsel, fix, or transform anyone. It may happen, but we should not pursue it. • Don't solicit for business. Even though, hopefully, you will have repeat participants (or as we lovingly refer to them, "frequent fliers") in the wellness room, you can't expect it. If clients want to know more about your work, have business cards handy, but "To be really helpful, I could see you in my office" is not an OK thing to say in this context. THE WORK My colleague Derek and I set up shop and work for 2.5 hours twice a month. I bring snacks, water, and tea to keep our blood sugar up, because we often get going and hardly have a moment to eat or use the bathroom. Students and staff sit next to one another on folding chairs, waiting their turn in our small, softly lit room. Students are only allowed to participate during study hall or lunch hour (sanctioned free time, not during class). We aim to offer 15-minute massage on tables, since that seems to be what we have in abundance (massage chairs would have been great, but I think most of the staff and students like lying down. I mean, who wouldn't like to lie down in the middle of their day?). Sometimes we can do up to 25 minutes if no one is waiting, but often those sessions get swiftly drawn to a close after 10 minutes because three students come in at once with both of us working already. Our massage is a standard, over-the- clothes massage. The only thing we ask them to remove is their shoes and glasses. Some, we request that they leave their shoes on (it's easier to clean up the dirt than be nearly overcome by the pungency of their socks). Try to not let this be a cookie-cutter experience. It's good to check in, especially with those you see every time you're there, to help them define the kind and depth of pressure you use. It is understood that your massage therapist heart is more than enough in the wellness room. In his seminal, must-read work, Putting the Soul Back in the Body, David Lauterstein writes, "Notice how the basic movements of massage are all derived from everyday gestures of affection. If we will let their spontaneity affect even our deeper work, our clients will feel fantastic." 1 You may be the only reassuring, unconditionally affirmative and nurturing human contact this person receives all day, or all week. Revel in the delight of your service. AN HONOR AND A PRIVILEGE What I've laid out is the most basic idea for how to create a wellness room. There are many details I left out, and I certainly didn't create this idea. We modeled ours on a neighboring high school's wellness room started in 2001. Theirs was in response to suicides at their school and 9/11. Ours was because we wanted to help in whatever way we could to alleviate distress with something as limited, and also as powerful, as our touch. Poverty, food insecurity, and lack of health insurance stalk Mainers. A lot of families are just trying to keep food in the house. I know my place in their priorities, and it is my honor and privilege to be where they can receive my work with zero cost or effort. It makes every whiff of floor varnish, fried food, and freshmen drenched in Axe body spray worthwhile. Note 1. David Lauterstein, Putting the Soul Back in the Body: A Manual of Imaginative Anatomy for Massage Therapists (David Lauterstein, 1985). Originally from Pennsylvania, Kristen Burkholder is a 2000 graduate of the erstwhile Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has lived in Maine for 20 years and has had a private practice there for almost as long, although she has worked in plenty of spas too. Visit her website at (Clockwise left to right): Our wellness room is open; Kristen Burkholder works with a student while a staff person waits her turn; Derek DeJoy works with a student while staff and students figure out who's next.

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