NAPLES, Fla. — If kids become dangers to themselves or to others, they go into the Crisis Unit at the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health. Inside, there are several different programs and therapies for kids, including Zumba classes.
"We do a mix of Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, Cumbia. I bring in some country, I bring in some pop and hip hop. We just have a lot of fun," Susan Solomon of Max Flex Fitness, a David Lawrence Centers partner, said.
The Zumba classes are more than just fun.
"Exercise is releasing those endorphins. I think it's important for their coordination, for their flexibility. It's good for their entire body," Solomon said.
Solomon teaches Zumba at the Crisis Unit once a week.
"Exercise is not only for your body, but also for your mind. And some of these children are dealing with some really difficult situations, and it's a way to get their mind off of some of the things that might be going on," she said.
Nancy Dauphinais, the Chief Operating Officer for the David Lawrence Centers, said the children in the crisis unit face some difficult traumas.
“A lot of individuals are having suicidal thoughts, they may have had suicidal behavior, suicide attempts. There can be challenges with aggression or thoughts of harming others, depression, mood swings," she said.
She said Zumba is more than just a distraction: it helps kids learn skills that can help them in their recovery after they leave the crisis unit.
"It helps with following directions and self confidence, and different types of relaxation. It helps with the social skills and just developing a relationship with peers and the team members in a way that isn't so focused on self-disclosure that may be really hard. They may feel really vulnerable talking about what's going on," Dauphinais said.
"I've been told that they really look forward to this. It's a time when they get to go outside and sort of let loose," Solomon said. "It may just be one small part of the treatment that they're going through, but it's definitely an important one."