Beverly Burns, Prevention First’s Featured Educator of the Month for February 2012!
Beverly is a model employee. She not only does what is required of her, but goes above and beyond in many ways to help out her fellow Education Specialists, other co-workers, and of course, her community. Beverly has a passion for helping others and also for laughing. Beverly brings friendliness and joy to Prevention First every single day, and that is why we honor her. Below is a Q&A session with Beverly, so you can truly understand the reasons she works so hard.
What made you want to work for a non-profit like Prevention First?
I lived in Germany for 15 years and worked with special needs children and teens. After doing a very intense training, I came back to the U.S. to help take care of my parents. After they passed, I began looking for work and a director at Prevention First told me of a part-time opening for a Life Skills teacher in Special Education. I was hired and worked with Helen Varvi, then director of Youth Services. I really liked the work I was doing. I was working on Project Oz, which is a life skills education program for special needs elementary school students. After working part time for three months, I was offered a full time position. I am very comfortable in a non-profit atmosphere as I ‘ve worked for private schools and assisted-living communities for special needs adults and children my whole life.
What is your favorite memory/experience from a Prevention First program you presented?
My favorite memory is any of the Laughter workshops and trainings I’ve offered to adults, children and seniors. The look of joy and laughter coming from their faces and body language is worth a thousand words! It’s priceless!
What is your favorite Prevention First program to present and why?
My absolute favorite program is Laughter Yoga. I developed it and market it myself through Prevention First, giving workshops and trainings as well. I also enjoy Project Oz, which the agency now offers by contract to schools with special needs classes. The Botwin Life Skills Training for 3rd through 5th grade is up there too. I feel very connected to the Strengthening Families grant-funded program, where we work with at-risk families for 7-14 weeks. I enjoy working with the parents as well as teens and small children in this program. It’s really hard to say which my favorite is as I love teaching Life Skills!
How did you originally become involved in Laughter Yoga?
While in transition in Germany, looking for another job and wrestling with whether to return to the states, I took a Laughter Yoga Leader Training in Germany with Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga. That was in late 2002 and I was hooked on laughter and its numerous effects on the body and mind ever since! I thought it was one of the best trainings I ever took. It was something anybody could do and in a short amount of time, experience more happiness, more wellness and more social skills. Shortly after that, when I returned to America, I took another Laughter Yoga Leader training by an American psychotherapist, a follower of Dr. Kataria’s. When I got the job at Prevention First, I discussed with the Adult Services director the idea of offering a three-hour workshop in Laughter Yoga at the Prevention First Training Institute, which was approved. I have since done workshops, assemblies and seminars in Laughter Yoga and have been able to bring the program to many communities in Monmouth and Ocean counties. These audiences have included elementary and high school students, assisted-living seniors and cancer survivors, as well as teachers, social workers and, of course, prevention and treatment specialists.
Where would you like to see Laughter Yoga go in the future?
In 2010, I was fortunate enough to go to a five-day Laughter Yoga Teacher Training in Chicago and had the chance to work with Dr. Kataria again. I went so I could offer the2 day Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Training here at Prevention First. I since have trained about 37 Laughter Leaders and am looking forward to giving others the tools to become Laughter Yoga Leaders in New Jersey and the northeastern region. Six of the Leaders are on our own staff and my hope is that they can bring the techniques to other programs they’re doing.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
I‘ve really enjoyed being a co-facilitator of the Chess Child programs, which I began early on in my career at Prevention First. I believe that chess gives children necessary life skills like focus, patience and sportsmanship. Also, I have really grown with Prevention First’s anti-bullying programs like ’What If’, Courageous Kids, and Cyber-bullying. I welcome opportunities to implement and develop new programs at Prevention First that will continue to enhance the resilience of at-risk communities in our areas.
Click here to see Beverly in action with her Laughter Yoga classes on ABC!
Some of Beverly’s favorite quotes include:
“We must be the change we wish to see in the world” -Ghandi
“Laughter is a gift everyone should open.” -Unknown
“Some pursue happiness, others create it.” -Unknown
“Be Happiness itself” -Buddha
“Sun demands no reason to shine. Water demands no reason to flow. A child demands no reason to be happy. Why do we need a reason to laugh?” -Dr. Madan Kataria
“Laughter is the brush that sweeps away the cobwebs of the heart.” -Unknown
“Though you might hear laughin’ spinnin’ swingin’ madly across the sun, it’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escapin’ on the run.” -Bob Dylan-‘Mr. Tambourine Man’
“It’s easier to maintain the illusion of control if you hold on to the handle.” -Unknown
“But it’s more fun if you just let the wind carry you.” -Unknown
”In the true adult there is a child concealed who wants to play!”
”Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.” -Norm Papernick
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” -H. Jackson Browne
“No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.” -Zen proverb
”Life is too short to hold a grudge, also too long.” -Robert Brault
”There are some remedies worse than the disease.” -Publilius Syrus
“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” -Hans Christian Andersen
“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.” -Henry Van Dyke
“Give us Lord, a bit o’sun, A bit o’work, and a bit o’fun, Give us all in the struggle and sputter, Our daily bread and a bit o’butter.” -from a pub in Lancaster, England
“Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.” -Brendan Gill
“Nobody really cares if you’re miserable, so you might as well be happy.” -Cynthia Nelms
“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you’d left open.” -John Barrymore
“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” -Nathaniel Hawthorne
“If you search the world for happiness, you may find it in the end, for the world is round and will lead you back to your door.” -Robert Brault
“Most people are more comfortable with old problems rather than with new solutions.” -Unknown
“Happiness is the feeling you’re feeling when you want to keep feeling it.” -Unknown
“What a pity human beings can’t exactly how to solve the other fellow’s.” -Olin Miller
“If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.” -Johann von Goethe
“Do the best you can, and be good to yourself so that you can above all be good to others.” -Jessi Lane Adams
“Dreams are free, so free your dreams.” -Astrid Alauda
“There is no personal charm so great as the charm of a cheerful temperament.” -Henry Van Dyke
“Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses.” -Proverb
“Life: It is about the gift, not the package it comes in.” -Dennis P. Costae, Jr.
“The only way to have a life is to commit to it like crazy.” -Angelina Jolie
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” -Colette
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” -Berke Breathed
“How often one sees people looking far and wide for what they are holding in their hands?” -Augustus William hare
“Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower.” -Anonymous
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” -Mark Twain
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford
“There is no effect more disproportionate to its cause than the happiness bestowed by a small compliment.” -Robert Brault
“Pay attention to your dreams-God’s angels often speak directly to our hearts when we are asleep.” -Eileen Elias Freeman
“To succeed in life you need three things: A wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.” -Reba McEntire
“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” -James Oppenheim
“There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.” -Lady Blessington
“Cheerfulness is what greases the axles of the world. Don’t go through life creaking.” -H.W.Byles
“There is a strange reluctance on the part of most people to admit that they enjoy life.” -William Lyon Phelps
“All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.” -Johann von Goethe
“The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.” -J.K. Galbraith
“Don’t’ find fault. Find a remedy.” -Henry Ford
“Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.” -Cicero
“One filled with joy preaches without preaching.” -Mother Teresa