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, keynote speaker, and community-builder. As a long-time advocate for supporting children’s emotional health and as the creator of celebrated experiential discovery programs at Tournesol and Dandelion DanceTM, Hannah was recognized by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2018 as one of five featured change-makers in Canada. Her I Can Dance series, consisting of six books that support the emotional health of children through movement, play, and expression, won the 2017 GOLD International Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (Books with Music/Theatrical) and has been adopted by multiple English- and French-language school boards across Canada.
Hannah’s 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. Hannah was the recipient of the 2011 Celebration of People Education Award for her development of inclusive education programs for the city of Ottawa.
Hannah has been consulting with schools, teachers and parents for 25 years, and provides professional development services in a variety of formats across the country. She is a certified Facilitator with the Neufeld institute, offering Neufeld workshops on the topics of anxiety and adolescence. Hannah is a sessional lecturer for the Faculty of Education at Vancouver Island University, lecturing on child development through a relational and developmental lens.