Jaima Chevalier

 

 

Gathering inspiration for her life’s work took a circuitous route for Helen Wildman Meehan, drawing on travels as far flung as Guinea, Spain, Australia and England, and drawing upon diverse talents in music, massage and theatre. Born in San Francisco, Wildman Meehan moved to New England at age 12, where dealing with her mentally challenged mother gave the young girl the gift of compassion for others and a profound understanding of the need for healing as an integral part of childhood education.

 

Captivated by sight of children singing on the hilltops of Austria in the film The Sound of Music, Wildman Meehan began a lifelong passion for promoting the healing arts and, in the process, erasing divisions between subject matters. At the tender age of nine, she imagined a landscape dotted with communities centered around teaching children to draw on their intuitive abilities to become healers. As an adult, Wildman Meehan studied healing arts in England for 15 years; learned Afro-Haitian dance; became fluent in Spanish while working two jobs as an English teacher and as an au pair in Spain; practiced massage for 32 years, and sang with the Santa Fe Symphony Chorus for more than eight years. All of these diverse professional experiences made for a potent blend of talents that ultimately came to fruition in the establishment of Golden Acorns Summer Camp, based in Santa Fe, where Wildman Meehan’s dream of establishing a kind of New World curriculum might strive to supply what was missing in public education.

 

Golden Acorns Summer Camp, Inc. was officially started in 2009, and became a 501(c) (3) in 2011. The organization is designed to promote living arts and culture for area children age 5 to 11, but the tantalizing course descriptions appeal to all: the village rhythms of Nigeria (including batiking); Balkan song and dance; dream weaving, meridians and essential oils; the culture and healing of India; Asian healing practices of shiatsu and qi gong; permaculture and herbalism; and urban culture, including break dancing, body percussion, spoken word and graffiti art; the art of clowning; the art of storytelling and listening. The one-week sessions presented at area campuses employ a broad range of instructors. The camps utilize student counselors who assist the adult instructors, providing a mentoring experience across the generations. At its core, the curriculum integrates a broad range of instructional areas in healing arts and cultural experiences, including yoga, t’ai chi, or meditation, intuitive development, sustainability and so forth, all presented alongside dance, music and story. World culture is a key component of Wildman Meehan’s vision. This year, week-long coursework based on the cultures of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Korea, Urban and New Mexico (including Native American, Spanish, and Sephardic components) are featured for the purpose of teaching how cultural similarities outweigh differences, and that the beauty of differences is to be cherished, not feared. Wildman Meehan’s childhood imaginings envision a world without borders, both geographical and cultural.

 

The cornerstone of Golden Acorns’ instructional approach is integrating healing arts into all subject matters, based on Wildman Meehan’s belief that the student’s internal environment is the linchpin for creating change in the outer environments—so much so that Wildman Meehan furnishes scholarships for deserving students. If the child learns methods of calming, curing and controlling behaviors, that positive energy leads to greater sensitivity and understanding of others, which in turn reduces the aggression and conflict. Golden Acorns’ holistic approach takes the healing arts to an additional level; that is, of raising consciousness about global concerns in sustainability.

 

Seemingly disconnected things—everything from the tiniest worm to world poverty to understanding interlinked riparian systems—is rolled into the lesson plans,” Wildman Meehan says. “The critical juncture in world history makes these lessons the key to peaceful solutions of the problems we face today.” While the experiences that brought Wildman Meehan to Santa Fe have extremely different origins, she believes that Santa Fe is ideally suited for this movement, and that the proliferation of organizations with similar objectives makes an environment ripe for collaboration and formation of partnerships that will bring strength to the overall design.

 

For more information, visit www.goldenacornscamp.com or contact Assistant Director Caren Gala at 505.795.9079.

 

Jaima Chevalier’s work has appeared in New Mexico Magazine, New Mexico Journey, Santa Fe New Mexican’s Bienvenidos and many other publications. She has authored three books on subjects related to her native state of New Mexico.