Jake and Henry create the youth organization, Common Roots...

Australians Henry Fowkes and Jake Potter started dreaming of youth programs at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Although they’ve danced together for nearly five years, it's only been in the last few months that they finally started to make their dream a reality.

First, they tested the water in two inner city schools teaching a workshop to youth. The kids loved it, the teachers loved it, and they loved what they were doing. Now that Henry and Jake both graduated as Open Floor Teachers, they are going big and taking this all over Australia (and they hope the world).

The name of their new organization, recently crowd sourced, is Common Roots. The goal: Have teenagers and young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 realize that they are more alike than they are different and help them grow into leadership roles.

Jake shares, “All of our programs are underlined with a body-focused approach. We use embodiment resources, remixed from the Core Movement Resources of the Open Floor Movement Practice and facilitated processes from the Group Work Institute, to equip young people to deal with the curve balls that life throws at us.” 

Henry and Jake aim to offer young people the tools to create more meaning, choice and clarity in their lives. By engaging youth in an exploration of their bodies, mind, emotions and spirit, a sense of compassion, empathy and cross-cultural connection is gained within the group. This builds a safe container to allow vulnerability, healing and transformation to emerge. Art and writing are sometimes included in the workshops, along with the dance, so the kids can express themselves and learn to value who they are, rather than their circumstances.

Henry and Jake want to grow a community organization, uniting, inspiring, and empowering youth and young adults to become change-makers in this world. They believe that true leadership comes from the inside out – through embodied leadership and mindfulness programs. They hope to kick off the second segment of their dream – encouraging youth and emerging adults in leadership roles – early next year with an annual event. There will be different workshops with various focuses, but also a place where participants can share what they are doing. “Leading ourselves with integrity is the first step to becoming impactful leaders of our communities, our countries and our world."

One of the teachers at the school in Tasmania, which had about 16 students in a Common Roots workshop, shared:

“... there was plenty of opportunity for self-expression and heaps of fun, as the students tapped into their individual energy and experienced the dynamic energy of the group. The session finished with a wonderful mindfulness meditation, which was a gift of deep relaxation. The students appreciated the whole session and felt relaxed and energized by it." Jane MacDonald, Guilford Young College.

We look forward to hearing more from Jake and Henry.