As 2016 comes to an end, it gives us time to reflect, refocus, & gear up for the year ahead. In preparation for 2017, I recently completed an exercise with one of my favourite yoga teachers, Elena Brower. We were asked to list everything that went wrong & right during 2016 with respect to career, personal & soul. Already in a negative space towards my past year (ALISHA LYNN! time to choose a different thought!;), I internally chuckled that my ‘what went wrong’ would FAR out number my ‘what went right’. As the exercise continued, I was pleasantly surprised that my ‘what went right’ was actually very similar in size to my ‘what went wrong’. You see, everything that I thought or felt was a negative experience, actually turned out to be those that brought me greater understanding, lessons & ultimately more & more gratitude into my life.
Every year things do go wrong for all of us. I’m sure we can all speak to the same about 2015, 2014, 2013 & so on… but, in the end there is ALWAYS so much more abundance available to us, within us, & those things that do go wrong, actually give us an opportunity to see a little more clearly & we become even more grateful for what is going right.
Something that recently “stung” just a little bit was receiving the news that my dear friend, a brilliant entrepreneur & selfless inspirer, did not win the Top 30 Under 30 Award I had nominated her for. Yes, this by no means is an awful tragedy, but as this time of year recognizes more “Top 30” or “Best of…” or “Countdowns” than we know what to do with, I truly believe this well-deserved nominee should be highlighted. We could easily get caught up in the disappointment of not winning, but WOW!! look at what she has done in less than 2 years, & to think of what’s to come! Chloe Dusser is a solid example of ‘what went right’ in 2016. Below is the exact nomination form, so PLEASE take a moment to read & join me in celebrating this vibrant young spirit we are so lucky to be graced with in our community!
1. How does this nominee make a difference globally and/ or within their local community?
Through her businesses of Wee Wild Ones (Yoga for everyone at every age; http://www.weewildones-yyc.com) and Of the Wild (Outdoor nature preschool; http://www.ofthewildnatureschool.com), Chloe Dusser has truly created the heart of her inner-city community of Bridgeland. Centered on her philosophy that it really does take a village to raise a child, she wanted to offer flexible yoga/childcare/school options to support families living within the fast paced reality of our modern world. Chloe truly maintains close relationships with all of her clients and wants to feel like her place is their second home, an extended family if you will. And what an extended family it is. Strong values centered on a healthy mind and body are instilled at an early age, encouraging the children to grow into honest, helpful, contributing members of society. Daily activities of yoga, meditation, arts & crafts, and outdoor adventures/education, offered in a flexible manner, are her cornerstones to building great balance into our kids. As a mother of a little 4 year old myself, I know that I can speak on behalf of all of the parents within our local community, of how grateful we are to have someone like Chloe in our lives. Her unconditional love and devotion to the development of our kids is truly special.
2. The ACGC Top 30 Under 30 Magazine will be profiling young people who are contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. How is this nominee contributing to the SDGs? (www.sustainabledevelopment.un.org)
Sustainability is at the very heart of Chloe’s vision. Through instilling such solid, relevant values in children from an early age, hopefully each of the 17 Goals will eventually be reached by the very children attending Chloe’s programs and school. With that said, her current primary achievements relating to sustainability are:
Good Health and Well-being
The benefits of yoga, meditation, and outdoor education are truly at the forefront of raising healthy, well-rounded children in today’s society, and are the foundation of Chloe’s philosophy. A recent study, for instance, showed the results of replacing detention with meditation in schools – the results are not surprising. Imagine the end result of teaching children this from an early age and building it into their daily routine, just like washing their hands and brushing their teeth. The results will be even more astounding. This is what Chloe is aiming for.
Through her Wee Wild Ones yoga and childcare studio, Chloe specifically bases programs on the Reggio learning philosophy which incorporates “principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children”. Each child has their own language that guides them towards success, and the goal of her program is for these children to become familiar with what their language may be and to explore it to the fullest. Both English and French are offered and parents are able to drop their children off based on their own schedule. An ideal complement and progression to Wee Wild Ones is Of the Wild Nature School. This inner-city preschool is aimed at exposing children (ages 3-6) to experiences in nature to help them grow, develop, and learn through an inquiry based approach. It’s within close proximity to Wee Wild Ones where before & after school childcare is then offered.
Chloe’s education model also encompasses several other of the Sustainability Goals within it:
i) Responsible Consumption and Production – recycling and green initiatives are built into the children’s routine and specialists on the subject are brought in to educate.
ii) Life on Land – the focal point of the children’s classroom is St. Patrick’s Island, the recent winner of the “Great Public Space” in Canada – they walk the grounds of one of the great land transformations our city has seen, and in the process, inherently learn all of the ecosystems that encompass it.
Sustainable Cities and Communities
In addition to the local community benefits mentioned in question 1. above, Chloe co-founded the Little Hippies Foundation to provide free yoga classes to children and youth who would not traditionally have access to this highly beneficial practice. Through partnering with existing organizations who already served disadvantaged populations (Inn from the Cold, Women’s Shelter, The Alex, Closer to Home, Starbucks etc.), it truly created a wonderful model, and one that Chloe has continued to use directly through her current business.
3. Why do you think this nominee deserves to be recognized as part of this year’s Top 30 Under 30? How are they a leader or role model for others?
For someone who has brought such solid values into our community, we can’t think of a more appropriate way to show Chloe our gratitude than to nominate her for this prestigious award. For someone with an advanced degree in Finance and the inherent path to “prosperity” etched into it, Chloe chose rather to follow the path of her heart. We are in awe of Chloe’s unconditional love for our kids and her unwavering drive to give them the best possible development and education. We know that there have been many inherent sacrifices with this path, but we know that this doesn’t even cross her mind. Chloe truly sees the bigger picture and knows that the best return on investment is the one found in the future of our kids.
4. Tell us a bit about the nominee. What makes them unique? Is there a personal anecdote or story you know that highlights their personality?
What makes Chloe unique? Her Heart; Chloe’s heart is taking her on this incredible journey. Raised in Paris, France by a mother with severe mental health issues, she has witnessed the constant judgment by teachers, caregivers, therapists, strangers, friends, and even family members. The very core of her strong character stems from this. Never does she want a parent to feel like they are not doing the best that they can and she’ll often step in during times of need. Without having any family of my own here in Calgary, Chloe, and what she’s created in Bridgeland, truly have become our second home. Recently, I was approached to host a private function on very short notice, and without hesitation, Chloe arranged a space for me at her business location, and then helped set up the space with props and beautiful decorations… and then if that wasn’t enough, offered to spend the entire afternoon with my daughter. In a world where people don’t seem to have a spare second, this is truly out of the ordinary, and in return, she expects nothing. She knew just how much this event meant to me and it’s just one simple example, out of many, of the community that she is creating. She selflessly gives to others and absolutely LOVES to do it. We have a truly impressive young woman here in Calgary, one with a special combination of gratitude and mental toughness. What a role model for our children; and what a safe, supportive, inviting community she has created.
My friend Chloe is such a special light & we are so lucky to have such a gracious soul in our community. Please join me, with profound gratitude, & thank Chloe from the bottom of our hearts for her beautiful work.