See what it looks like when you teach women in prison to dance.

How dancing helped these inmates to find freedom in prison.

Women at the South Middlesex Correctional Center don’t have much freedom to move.

But twice a week, a small group gathers in the cafeteria at the prison prison outside Boston. And they dance.


All photos in this story by Heidi Shin, used with permission.

22-year old dancer Christine says the dancing is a chance “to express yourself, and to feel normal” in a place where you don’t have many choices.

Dancers stretch before a challenging routine.

The women are part of a program called Moving Steps, where professional dancers help inmates choreograph their own routines — hip-hop, ballet, and modern dance.

A few times a year, they also stage performances in the prison cafeteria.

Former inmates dancing freestyle during a Friday night rehearsal in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Scarves, which the women wanted to use for their performances, were banned in the prison because they were seen as a risk during the holidays, when depression and thoughts of suicide were more likely to rise among the inmates.

Makeup had been banned, too, so the women got creative during performances, turning bedsheets into makeshift scarves and using glitter from the ornaments on the Christmas trees as eye shadow.

The dance group serves as a kind of support group for the women both on the “inside” and once they’ve transitioned to the outside world.

Coming together to work through their choreography is like a support group, the women say.

It's a way of overcoming past traumas, too — many have been survivors of violence and abuse in the past.

Some have children in the outside world. Others have family members who they haven’t spoken with in some time. For them, the performances can also mark a family reunion of sorts.

On the day of the performance, visitors push their IDs through a bulletproof window and wait to be ushered inside.

Other inmates file in to watch, too. “I think [my grandma] was crying,” Christine says. “She thought it was awesome. She was really proud of me. Because she’s seen me how I was before, before all the issues started.”

Adrianne Tabet acts not just as the program's director, but also as den mother.

Adrianne Tabet, the group’s program director, watches a studio rehearsal in Cambridge.

Last year, when Tabet faced hip surgery, the women rallied to send her handmade cards. After the performance, she visits with one group and then the next, praising the accomplishments of the women to the family members who've come to watch.

The program isn’t just a new start for the inmates, either.

One former instructor was a recently retired dancer from Jose Mateo's ballet company, a professional dance troupe in Boston.

Instructor Mary Teuscher is a professional dancer who volunteers with Moving Steps.

Given the physical strain of dancing, ballet dancers often retire young. So volunteering while studying to become a dance therapist is a way of launching a new career for some instructors as well.

The program doesn't end when women are released from prison.

In fact, Tabet says their dance group is most critical as women re-enter the world. They continue to gather on Friday nights at a dance studio in Cambridge.

Dance practice in Cambridge.

A dancer shows off a few moves.

One member of the group prepares for an upcoming performance in Harvard Square.

As they transition to “life on the outside” the dance group gives some sense of stability.

In addition to dancing, most of the women in the group are now working jobs in food service — one of the few industries likely to give people with criminal records a second chance. Christine says she’s chosen to keep dancing after leaving prison because “it’s something to look forward to, commit to, and to stay on the right path.”

Next up, Tabet hopes to launch a dance program for kids of incarcerated mothers to help them cope with the stresses of being separated from their parents.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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