Racial Equity Trainings, Workshops, & Consulting
To talk about working together- please email us at:
Who We Are:
Ayla Gavins is an equity and inclusion consultant and educator who brings deep knowledge of what it takes to create equitable and just education environments and engages fellow educators locally and globally to design inclusive programs. She regularly consults with and leads discussion groups on racial equity and inclusion for a variety of organizations, assisting individuals and teams to see their role in creating inequities and supporting them to change that narrative. She is the former principal of the Mission Hill School in Boston, one of the most progressive, inclusive, and democratic schools in the country. Ayla holds a masters degree in education, and is a licensed teacher and school administrator. She is the co-director of The Farm School in Athol, Mass. and is an active Board Member at Circus Up.
Leah Abel is a consultant on equity in circus arts education and speaker on the intersection of arts and justice. She uses liberation health as a framework for working with youth from under-resourced and marginalized communities and with organizations that aim to build more supportive cultures for their staff. A longtime member of the social circus, hospital clowning, and Clowns Without Borders communities, Leah is a licensed clinical social worker. She studied with Dawn Belkin Martinez at Simmons Graduate School of Social Work and also holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. As Founder and Executive Director of Circus Up, Leah is committed to co-designing equitable partnerships with other community organizations. She is also a founding member of DRIVE Forward, a diverse team of hospital clowns across the U.S. who are dedicated to Diversity, Representation, Inclusion, Voice, and Equity.
What We Do:
In partnership, Ayla and Leah have been working with leadership and staff teams to build racial justice and equity into their organizations and team culture, policies, and practices. Most often this takes the form of foundational workshops and training on racial equity and liberation health, but can also include individual and group coaching and facilitated dialogues.
We believe that everyone has a valuable contribution to make in our group work, and we understand that we all contribute in different ways.
We aim to be present in our work with others, and we strive to do the thing that allows us and others to be present
We know that there is no quick fix; this work is a practice.
We address conversations about race, gender, class, and sexual orientation with courage and trust that we can learn together.
We believe that doing meaningful work, including establishing new policies and practices, depends on trust and relationships
Workshop: “Growing Stronger Communities Through Racial Equity and Liberation Health”
In this workshop, facilitators Leah Abel and Ayla Gavins ask participants to reflect on larger systems of racism and oppression through a discussion of how racism functions in the United States. Starting with the self, participants discuss the roles they play in the systemic oppression and/or suppression of others. Along the way, Leah and Ayla introduce a methodology called “Liberation Health,” created by Paulo Freire in the 1970s, as a resource. Liberation Health helps individuals, families, and communities understand the personal, cultural, and institutional factors that contribute to any given problem and act to change those conditions; to liberate themselves from internal and external oppressions. Participants deconstruct dominant cultural messages and structures that don’t work for their community (or actively harm their community) while taking action to start creating change right where they stand, in their own relationships, organizations, and larger systems.
With their combined decades of experience as educators--Ayla as a leader in education and Leah as a circus artist, coach, and coach of other coaches--Ayla and Leah use racial equity and liberation health to offer participants ways to begin to shift their own team cultures, create more equitable programs and classrooms, and build healthier, happier, anti-racist teams and communities. Leah and Ayla also share stories of their co-creative, collaborative experiences working with liberated teams all over the world.
“Leah and Ayla did an incredible job. We were given the space to learn and the opportunity to have conversations about race, our white supremacy culture, and current events. They provided many great resources that expanded our learning and fit perfectly with the conversations we were having as a group. Before each class, they provided us with a series of useful questions that greatly helped us examine our role in white supremacist systems. They really created a safe and encouraging environment for people to speak freely about these hard topics. I can only speak for myself, but I believe that everyone felt that their voices were heard. We reflected upon our own identities as well as how we contribute to larger systems of racism. I left with a better understanding of my own internal bias as well as a hunger and drive to learn more on my own. This was an extremely beneficial and unique workshop. I cannot recommend it enough!”
"Leah Abel's class on Liberation Health was especially eye-opening. As a white person, I have often felt that racism was binary, but silly me, nothing is binary anymore! We discussed how to look not only deeper, but WIDER at racism. I learned how to zoom out and see just how many big factors are at play when it comes to issues of identity, equity, and justice, even in the smallest event. I highly recommend this workshop.”
“Leah's informative work on the Liberation Health Model, combined with Ayla’s forum examining race and identity perfectly intertwine to facilitate a dialogue about how external social forces interact on a multitude of levels. Leah’s training examines how institutional, cultural, and personal forces intertwine and influence how an individual experienced their world. Ayla’s examination of race perfectly compliments the Liberation Health Model by asking participants to consider how one's own racial and cultural identity influences how they both perceive and are treated in the world. Both were incredibly interesting, and together the sessions break down complex sociological concepts into tangible ideas. I highly recommend this training, and certainly learned a lot. These conversations around race, identity, and society are highly important; individuals from all walks of life can learn immensely from the discussion.”