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Janet Aalfs and Pamela Westgate: VWMA thankful for community


Sunday, August 06, 2017

Forty years and growing – our gratitude is immense. We at Valley Women’s Martial Arts and Lotus Peace Arts are deeply thankful for the encouragement, kindness, and assistance we receive from so many people locally and beyond.

A community-supported endeavor since 1977, our non-profit school was founded in the belief that feminist social justice values and women’s leadership skills are crucial to recognize and develop at any age for the health, safety, and well-being of everyone. Challenging times call for inter-generational perseverance in learning and sharing tangible skills that promote deeper listening, civic responsibility, true democracy, and peace-building.

Georgia Ginger, a VWMA Power Girl and Karate Peacemaker, has offered this 40th anniversary poem to remind us, “The longer your roots are, the more kind, strong, and helpful you are.” A Gazette report on local female middle school students (“JFK Middle School students march against sexual harassment,” July 8) who organized a march to raise awareness about preventing sexual harassment included the involvement of youth and parents connected with VWMA and LPA.

With self-care and self-protection at the core, we can strengthen our abilities to transform unhealthy cycles of pain and dysfunction into vital spirals of healing. In celebrating the longevity, poetic power, and sustaining gifts of movement-based integrative arts — tai chi, qigong, karate, arnis, and more — we are grateful to be part of ongoing collaborative efforts with so many openhearted individuals who are providing services and activities that inspire positive connections.

May this community spirit of abundance and goodwill continue to guide us all.

Janet Aalfs and Pamela Westgate

Northampton