It is no accident that I have devoted my professional life to creating safe spaces and experiential programs that better the lives of children and communities.
I grew up in an enormous family, as the youngest of nine biological children and three foster children. People often thought I lived in a group home – but, nope, that was just my family! It wasn’t always easy, but I feel so grateful to my parents. Because of them, I saw the incredible gifts that result from giving children of diverse abilities, backgrounds and beliefs a safe space to be themselves and celebrate each other through play and connection.
After I left L’Arche, I studied social work, and went on to work at a parent resource centre, while continuing to teach children’s dance classes on the side. The more I worked with kids, the more I realized they needed something they just weren’t getting anywhere in our society. They needed a place to digest their world, PLAY and FEEL. They needed a space that was dedicated to letting their inside selves come OUT through the process of creation.
It was from this realization that I was inspired to create my own movement and arts-based experiential discovery programs for children and youth of all ages and abilities, first at Tournesol and then at Dandelion DanceTM. Today, I have folded my programs at Tournesol into the I Can Dance Series, so that educators everywhere can bring the gifts of expressive movement into their classrooms. And Dandelion is flourishing in Ottawa Ontario, with hands-on programs being delivered to girls and young women by gifted educators that I have personally trained.
My work has evolved and taken many different forms over the past 25 years, but at the core of everything I do is my commitment to the emotional growth and well-being of children and youth in our schools, communities, and homes.
Hannah Beach is an award-winning educator, author, and keynote speaker. She was recognized by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2017 as one of five featured change-makers in Canada. Her bestselling I Can Dance book series—supporting the emotional health of children through movement, play, and expression—won a 2017 gold International Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and has been adopted by multiple English- and French-language school boards across Canada.
Hannah received the City of Ottawa’s annual Celebration of People Education Award, which recognized her expertise in developing innovative inclusive programs and resources. Her work with children has been shared and highlighted in distinguished venues across the country, including the Senate of Canada, multiple universities, as well as national and international conferences.
As the founder of celebrated experiential discovery programs at Dandelion DanceTM and Tournesol, Hannah has spent over twenty-five years developing and delivering programs for children and youth. She is a Neufeld course facilitator, delivers professional development services across the country, provides emotional health consulting to schools, and speaks at national and international conferences about the power of bringing more feeling and human connection into the classroom.
Hannah is married and has three children. She lives on the West Coast of Canada.