Mayu's story is truly one of how high a person can climb when given a friendly ear, a guiding hand and help navigating life in a new country.
Born and raised in Japan, Mayu came to Halifax with her Canadian husband and young family. "When we moved here, I did not know anybody. All the time, I felt isolated and I missed my family and friends. But I pushed myself so it would get better for my kids."
Mayu took her children to the library, to the playground and eventually to a drop-in playgroup at the United Way-funded Fairview Family Resource Centre. As they began to fit in and make new friends, so did Mayu. "I got to know the people who worked there, and I started to feel more comfortable talking to them about what I was thinking, what I was worrying about. Every time I asked for help, the people at the Centre helped me get what I need."
To help with stress and anxiety, Mayu decided to do something for herself. "I started going to Canada Games Centre, running, and going to fitness classes. I had depression and anxiety. It felt so good to keep moving, I started to come almost every day."
That’s where Mayu discovered Zumba. "I had never danced, even in Japan, but it was fun! Dance is medicine – if you are physically and mentally healthy, you can do anything you want." And with the encouragement of the staff at the Fairview Family Resource Centre and her Zumba instructors, Mayu decided that what she wanted was to become a Zumba instructor herself.
She worked hard, participating in classes, paying attention to music selection, choreography and the encouraging words instructors used to motivate participants. When it came time to begin to teach her own class, she was nervous. "English is not my first language, how can I lead these people?" But she didn’t let her fear hold her back. Her instructors shored up her confidence and her friends at the Fairview Family Resource Centre helped by giving Mayu a place to rehearse and a space for her to do her practical exam – which she passed with flying colours.
"I really, really appreciated how much the staff at the Fairview Family Resource Centre helped me get here and I wanted to do something to help them. So now I am offering free Zumba classes to the staff and other program participants at Fairview."
Dance is medicine – if you are physically and mentally healthy, you can do anything you want.