Posts tagged health

6 Notes

Entry #1: BluePrint for Life

Stephen "Buddha" Leafloor

I stumble upon Blueprint for Life back in 2008 after watching an unreleased version of Planet B-Boy, the monumental documentary on the international world of B-boying. If you watch the film to the very end (during the credits) you will see a stocky bald white dude talking about doing Break Dance Therapy with isolated indigenous youth in Canada’s artic. I am proud to say that man, is my comrade and colleague. His name is Stephen Leafloor, but he goes by Buddha. He is a social worker, old school b-boy and one of Canada’s greatest assets.

Simply looking at Buddha, you wouldn’t know that he is one of the longest-practicing B-boys in Canada and founded Canada’s first break dance crew, the “Canadian Floor Masters”. But don’t get it twisted. He is fierce. At 50+ years, he’s still got moves that would impress the best B-boys/B-girls. 

What I appreciate most about Buddha is how he has integrated his experience as a B-boy with being a social worker. He founded Blueprint for Life to provide dynamic, culturally appropriate programs for First Nations and Inuit youth centered on Hip Hop rooted in traditional culture. Through his unique model for community development, alternative education and healing, Buddha has successfully partner with indigenous communities to bring new opportunities for their youth, families and elders.  To date, through Blueprint for Life, Buddha has worked with over 3600 youth in a variety of projects in 45 communities. His work has been featured in over 4 documentaries and film projects like the one below.

In 2009, Buddha and I joined to organize the first ever (multi-element) Hip Hop Therapy presentation for a national conference in Washington D.C. (Photo Below: from left to right; Dr. Damon Silas, Abdallah Ezekiel Rothman, Tomas Alvarez III, Buddha Leafloor at 2009 National Teach-In for Remixing the Art of Social Change: a Hip-Hop Approach)

 The presentation entitled, “Be Healthy: Connecting the Mental, Emotional and Physical Wellbeing of Youth” presented on the application of Rap Therapy, Breakdance Therapy and Graffiti Therapy as tools for engagement, promoting health and psychosocial development among teens. 

You can learn more about Buddha and his work with Blueprint for Life by visiting his website. You can also read more about his work, along with my work using Rap Therapy in Oakland, California, in this upcoming book, Therapeutic Uses of Rap and Hip-Hop.  


15 Notes

Hip Hop *NOS

Tomas Alvarez

For the last eight years I have been discovering innovative uses of Hip Hop as a tool for healing, education, social change and empowerment. Originally, my interest in the area, stemmed from a desire to create a Rap Therapy program to engage youth of color in therapeutic services for whom traditional forms of therapy were not a “good fit”. As a social worker and lover of Hip Hop, the idea just made sense. So in 2004, with the help of my good friend Rob Jackson, the Beats Rhymes and Life (BRL) Rap Therapy program was born. Little did I expect to find myself on the forefront of an emerging field of study and practice, now referred to as Hip Hop Therapy (also, known as Rap Therapy). I am proud to say, through the hard work and dedication of a core group of people, the BRL Rap Therapy program has evolved into a non-profit organization (Beats Rhymes and Life, Inc.) with therapeutic programs in Oakland, San Francisco, Ashland, CA and South Bronx, New York.

Over the years, I’ve travel across the U.S. presenting on the work of Beats Rhymes and Life. Through my journeys I have had the privilege, and honor, to meet some extraordinary people using Hip Hop is amazing ways to make this world a better place. Sadly, you are not likely to find out about these people, or their projects through most mainstream media outlets. This is why I have launch a personal blog which I have named, Hip Hop *NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) to shed light on that which is in a special category all it’s own. My goal? Each week (for one year), I will share out on at least one project, organization, group or individual who is using Hip Hop as a catalyst for change and development. My hope is that this blog will serve as a resource for those interested in this work and illustrate the value of Hip Hop when we look past the stereotypes and sensationalism to its core foundation. Stay tuned and help me spread the word about Hip Hop *NOS. Peace.

-Tomás Alvarez III, MSW