Meredith Harper Houston ’93, founder and chair of the Swan Within, was recognized at the June 2018 Youth Justice Conference, organized by former US Secretary of Labor and current Los Angeles Supervisor Hilda Solis. The Swan Within is a nonprofit that teaches ballet to teen girls who are incarcerated in the juvenile detention system, many of whom are the victims of sex trafficking, abuse, trauma, and neglect.
“I wanted to create a safe space for girls who have been abused so they have full agency over their bodies,” said Meredith. “The rigor of ballet helps the girls gain agency over their bodies. The students transfer the graceful control over their own bodies required for ballet performance into personal strength needed to reclaim their identities.”
The Swans recently danced at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in a performance Meredith describes as “transformative in so many ways.” The dancers ended their season last year with a performance of The Nutcracker in December 2017, and although it is just the start of the summer, the group is already looking ahead to this year’s end-of-year performance.