Encouraging healthy behavior and decreasing substance abuse in our community.


Published on July 22nd, 2020 | by Erica Zimmerman


Youth Health and Justice – Summer Teen Series begins July 29

Come learn new skills and brainstorm with peers about how to be of service in this revolutionary moment. How do we connect with others outside of family/school/work to build strong and resilient caring communities?  Join us for safe in-person meetings on the Vermont State House lawn, or under cover if raining.


Class and Dialogue sessions meet on the state house lawn from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

  • Wed. July 29th – Community Building through Playback Theatre
  • Fri. July 31st – Street Medic Skills
  • Wed. Aug 5th – Opioid Overdose and Prevention
  • Fri. Aug 7th – Writing the Body
  • Wed. Aug 12th – Sticks and Stones – Can Words Really Hurt You? What You Need to Know About the Right to Free Speech 


  1. Spots limited to 12 youth: Apply now! High school students including rising freshmen, graduating seniors and homeschoolers! 
  2. There is no fee to attend! 
  3. Covid precautions: We will require physical distancing and masks or a face shield (we will have face shields available). 
  4. Classes will meet on the state house lawn: Bring a mask, hat, blanket or towel and a water bottle. Snacks will be provided.
  5. Come with wonder, come with grief, come with questions, come as you are.  What kind of world do we want to build? 
  6. If transportation is an issue, please be in touch and we can brainstorm ways to help you attend. 


Fill out an application here: https://forms.gle/BfJPuYYqmaEYiyzbA. For questions please contact Leslie Ruster with Central Vermont New Directions at LRuster.CVNDC@gmail.com

In-Depth Schedule:


Lenna Wertenbaker – Lenna is inspired by the body as a landscape, our beings as complex and interconnected, and our experiences as living forces that shape who we are. She believes our stories are worth finding and telling. Lenna is an herbalist, trauma-informed group facilitator and community member, and founding member of the Central Vermont Playback Theater troupe. 

Lucy Schmid –  is a queer, trauma-informed educator, creative mover, and improviser of everyday life. She is the founder and co-director of the Central Vermont Playback Theatre troupe, and loves to share this ritual, improvisational communal practice as a way of creating more resilient community. In her life and work, Lucy seeks to create space for curiosity, meaningful connection, and building our skills as change-shapers through play. 

Murphy Robinson – is a queer Street Medic, Wilderness First Responder, former EMT, survival skills teacher and a founding member of both Vermont Street Medics and the Yarrow Action Medical Society trainers collective. You can learn about their work at: www.mountainsongexpeditions.com

Kelly Arbor – aka raarrr – is a sex and drugs harm reduction edu-tainer. From the stages to the streets, this warrior looks for opportunities to bring wholistic change artistry to communities. 

Martina Anderson – Martina is the Harm Reduction Program Manager at Vermont CARES. She was born and raised in Austria where she also completed a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education. In 2009 life brought her to the US, where she travelled through many different states and finally settled in Vermont to raise her two young children. Dancing, eating, board-games, beautifully illustrated books, a good laugh, jumping head first into new adventures, vulnerable heart to heart conversations, hot summer days and apple-strudel are just a few of her favorite things. 

Tessa Micaela (tehs-sah mee-kai-eh-la) – is a queer, white-bodied poet and writer born and raised on the Lenni-Lenape land of Philadelphia, PA. Tessa is the author of Where Bells Begin (Rescue Press, 2019) and there are boxes and there is wanting (Trembling Pillow Press, 2016) and has taught somatic practice and writing workshops at universities, community organizations, youth programs and city jails. Tessa collaborates widely with other herbalists, writers, organizers, community healers. Currently living and working on the unceded Abenaki territory of central Vermont, Tessa practices herbal medicine, and is a midwife-in-training. 

Paula Emery – Before becoming a high school social studies teacher, Paula Emery spent most of the time when she wasn’t working involved in various forms of activism in Vermont and all over the USA.  Over the years she was involved in the organization of the Youth Greens, the first ever Earth Day Wall Street Action, publication of The Northern Spy and the early movement for a living wage in Vermont. She’s been throttled, tugged, chased, arrested and tear gassed in various demonstrations while exercising her right First Amendment rights. 

Facilitated by: Central Vermont New Directions Coalition Staff

Leslie Ruster – is  a Health Promotion Educator at Central Vermont New Directions Coalition. She’s a licensed high school teacher, herbalist, interfaith chaplain, storyteller and wilderness therapy guide. She’s passionate about growing caring communities within a toxic society.  

QUESTIONS? Contact Leslie Ruster with Central Vermont New Directions at LRuster.CVNDC@gmail.com

As we experience discomfort in this time, let’s begin to dream of a new normal, a new normal that addresses the weaknesses and problems that were going unaddressed in the old normal. If we’re wise, we won’t go back; we’ll go forward. —Brian McLaren

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