Through our outreach events, Unicorns & Polka Dots is rewriting the narrative about substance use disorder (SUD). Our outreach programs and events help educate and empower individuals in recovery to live their best lives. Read what people have to say after participating in our events.
The self defense classes offered to women in recovery were eye opening to me. I learned so much from each class. Learning how to properly disable an attacker was very beneficial. More importantly, I learned strategies to be more aware of my surroundings and to avoid putting myself in dangerous situations. The instructors were excellent and my self-confidence is so much stronger. What an amazing experience!
These self-defense classes were so much more than I expected. In addition to learning all the valuable hands-on knowledge required to defend myself, the class became a place to have fun and make new friends. I never would have thought at the beginning that I would look forward to this every week, but I genuinely do. The course is a safe place for me, with people I genuinely can count on and care about. The things I'm learning in class are becoming habit-forming. I’m also learning more about self-awareness and my self-confidence is getting stronger each week. I feel a sense of accomplishment in my life. I'll forever be grateful to the instructors and all of my classmates for helping me find a new sense of security and peace of mind. Thank you, Unicorns & Polka Dots, from the bottom of my heart!
Thank you to Unicorns & Polka Dots for offering such an important life skill – self-defense. It is wonderful to participate with a group of my peers, some women I already knew and others I did not know, but are now becoming my friends—it's becoming a sisterhood! Having a common goal of protecting ourselves and coming from similar backgrounds of overcoming addiction were meaningful to me. The instructors were mindful that we were all at different levels physically and they adapted the course to all levels of fitness and ability. I have a physical disability and personally had no issues participating at any time throughout the whole course. I feel much more prepared to get out of potentially dangerous situations now that I’ve had this training. I am currently enrolled in my second course of women's self-defense so I can refine my current skill set and learn even more. Having the opportunity to be involved in something like this has added a lot to my life—from the fun and fellowship I get from doing this as a group with women in recovery all together, and from the added confidence I get from the skills I’ve gained to protect myself. Not only that, I feel that the instructors really care about us as individuals and are committed to our ongoing success as sober women taking on life in a new way.
I'm so grateful Unicorns & Polka Dots started self-defense classes! I’m learning the importance of self and situational awareness, and I’m enjoying the in-depth instruction and hands-on training. I didn't think I would ever have the knowledge to defend myself against an attacker but after participating in this self-defense class I feel confident and empowered. I think ALL women in recovery should consider taking this self-defense class; the value in knowledge and skill I've learned is priceless!
I want to thank Joe from Unicorns and Polka Dots and Skip from Kim's Martial Arts for training me in self-defense. I've experienced several types of abuse in my life so this training in self-defense is giving me the confidence and self-awareness I was looking for. Joe and Skip were very kind and made me feel comfortable throughout the classes. The skills I’m learning are very valuable, and I’m having fun learning them hands-on. I now feel empowered to protect not only myself, but my family as well. So much gratitude for what Joe from Unicorns & Polka Dots is doing for the recovery community.
Self-Defense for Women in Recovery has been an ongoing positive experience in my life for multiple seasons now. Prior to the first session starting, I was nervous and self-conscious to do something new to me in a group that could be physically taxing as I was very out of shape. But being newly sober and wanting to face my fears, get healthy and try new things, I signed up with some friends and let the excitement outshine the nerves. After just the first class, I had no regrets; and two full sessions later, I feel it has been a significant part of my recovery.
This group, being free to women in recovery, with other women I can relate with, for beginners, and with kind, patient, knowledgeable instructors made that step as easy as it could be. I had a way to be physically active, get in shape and healthier weekly. It gave me a commitment to stick to and help in keeping a routine—but with my recovery buddies to keep me accountable.
Most importantly for me were the internal changes I experienced – increased self-esteem, self-confidence, self-awareness and new friendships. My classmates and I would always say these nights were the best we felt all week, and I fully believe it was not just the physical benefits that made this so. I learned new skills – avoiding risky situations, how to defend myself or get out of a dangerous situation, and all of this required different ways of thinking than I would do any other time of the week. I met new friends, spent time with current ones and saw old ones—we are creating sober, healthy and productive habits.
My experience participating in the Overcoming Fear workshop and firewalk was profound. I have struggled with anxiety my whole life and what my anxiety boils down to is fear. I used to fear everything. The workshop changed my mindset. I found power in saying no and I stepped out of my comfort zone and broke a board with my hands. The whole time doing it, my brain was telling me I couldn’t do it but I broke through those thoughts of fear that I might break my hand. But I did it! The workshop helped me to retrain my brain to work through my negative self-talk and my fear. I am so grateful to Unicorns & Polka Dots for hosting such an inspirational workshop.
Initially, I thought it would just be neat to walk over hot timbers. But the Overcoming Fear counselors conducting the presentation were inspiring. They were extremely knowledgeable about the topic, were easy to relate to and did a great job getting all the participants engaged. As I listened to various speakers, I realized how much fear was playing a role in my life and how it was preventing me from being all that I can be. It was an amazing experience and I’m grateful to Unicorns & Polka Dots for all they do to help those of us in recovery lead lives of productivity filled with purpose.
Attending the Overcoming Fear firewalk workshop was an exhilarating and liberating experience. Being a newcomer to such an event, sitting amongst a crowd of people, I found a sense of belonging and unity. As a person in recovery, these two concepts are extremely valuable to me. I also brought my own vulnerability and grief and I was able to share my wanting to find my voice by participating in the arrow activity. The firewalk portion of the evening had such deep meaning to me as I lost my mother in a fire while I was in active addiction. These activities gave me a sense of freedom. The event hosts and narrators were amazing as were the beautiful grounds.
Thank you so much to Unicorns & Polka Dots for giving me and others in recovery the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful workshop. I attended this event convinced that I would absolutely not walk on fire, but maybe the speakers would have some things I could relate to. I was completely blown away by the experience. Not only did I end up walking on fire after hearing the motivational speakers, I also walked on broken glass barefoot. What really inspired me was that there was no pressure placed on me at all to walk on fire or broken glass.
The evening was such a positive and uplifting experience that I felt empowered to go for it in the moment. I’m so grateful that I did and that I got the full experience of the Overcoming Fear event. And because Unicorns & Polka Dots funds these types of activities for people in recovery, I’m beyond grateful. As someone on disability, these types of events would typically be a luxury I just couldn’t afford, but Unicorns & Polka Dots has really stepped up to help those of us in recovery. And what I really like about Unicorns & Polka Dots' mission is the out-of-the-box thinking they bring to the recovery community – supplementing the clinical treatments, meetings and 12-step programs with activities and events that add so much additional value to the recovery process. Their fresh perspective for enriching the lives of those in recovery is sorely needed and most welcome.
The firewalk event was absolutely incredible and left me feeling invincible! Stepping across those hot timbers was an intense rush, and the sense of empowerment afterwards was beyond words. This was an incredible event that mixed ancient traditions with modern healing. Combining emotional support and guidance, participants conquered fear, smashing their self-doubt and leaving with a renewed sense of strength crucial for their ongoing recovery. This firewalk was a game-changer, giving everyone in attendance a powerful and unforgettable step towards self-discovery and empowerment.
Being afraid is a very human thing. Courage, on the other hand, is a very spiritual thing. Courage means to act with heart, to act from our beliefs and values. During my active addiction, I lost power and was tied to self-defeating and self-depreciating thoughts and behaviors. But the workshop and the firewalk helped me to see and believe I could become the person I was always meant to be—the person who will not run away from my fires because they are life-changing and worth it every time. It was empowering to know that the more fires I walk towards with purpose and conviction, the warmer, stronger, more loving, I will become. I learned I am the master of my emotions. I learned I have a sense of self-assuredness – facing my fear of the fire – I have an absolute certainty that I can and will succeed through any fire in my life. Courage is defined by how you respond to your fears. This was not about the fire, but what it took to get through it. This was one of the most insightful activities that I had the courage to choose to actively, and with purpose, participate in; one step forward looking ahead.
The Overcoming Fear firewalk workshop was an experience beyond words. I have found after 20 years in and out of sobriety and addiction that fear had been my number one offender – it has been running my life. This workshop gave all of us an opportunity to face these fears on our own time and terms. I found that by listening to others express their fears, turn them into positive affirmations and actually go through tangible exercises to release them, I was empowered, inspired and working through mine at the same time. I heard so many relatable and inspiring stories. I went through an emotional journey from the moment the workshop started to the very end after we processed our experiences. I realized that now, 2 years sober, I still have so many fears it was hard to verbalize or pinpoint one to focus on – and that that was alright. After Joe Brady spoke about his own story, I realized my biggest fear at that specific time in my life was relapsing and ultimately my parents finding me dead, again. I had been struggling lately and had stopped taking it one day at a time while living in regret of the past and fear of the future. The final act of walking over hot timbers and verbalizing our positive affirmations with the entire group surrounding each other is something I will never forget. Those words I spoke to myself are ones I continue to say every day in the mirror: I trust God. I trust myself. I trust my recovery. I am worthy. I am enough. I am facing my fears today.
Thank you so much for spending a few hours with us teaching us about networking. I didn’t realize how many strategies I could use to build my network and how much networking is a life-long practice. I see how it can help with finding jobs, but you have taught me that it also contributes to boosting my self-esteem and enables me to share ideas with people from many different walks of life. I’m beyond grateful for all you do for those of us in recovery!
Thank you, Joe, for teaching me so much about the importance of networking and for sharing with me so many tools and ideas on how to make networking a skill that I can use throughout life, not just in finding a job. You certainly know what you are talking about!
Joe, thank you for teaching me something so vital in helping me move my life forward. This workshop has opened my eyes to so many new possibilities, and I’m excited to begin using all the things you taught me. I’m also excited to use networking to see how I might help others. Thank you for showing me that networking is a two-way street.
I never realized how important and how valuable networking can be in our daily lives. In this age of technology, it was refreshing to see that developing relationships face-to-face is not a lost art, but it is one that needs to be practiced on a consistent basis. I also liked that you said that networking shouldn’t stop when things are going well. You should be networking all the time. I’m very impressed with all you shared with me.
Thank you so much for coming in to speak with us about networking and why it is so important. Your workshop has inspired me to develop a networking strategy and make it a skill I can use for life. I especially liked your idea to set a goal to meet one new person each month to continue expanding my horizons and increase my knowledge base. I am so excited to get started, and I think it is awesome that you care so much about people in recovery. You matter!
Ladies in early recovery from Briermost and Woodrow recovery housing attended a six-week beginners Self-Defense class. There was some initial hesitation from some of the residents because their physical health has not been a priority during their active addiction. After the first class, all residents responded with excitement. They shared the instructors were kind, helpful, and encouraging.
By the end of the six-week program, residents shared they felt an increase in muscle strength, balance, and flexibility. All residents shared they felt the work-out provided a great amount of stress relief. The self-defense class helps to build confidence and supports residents feeling better about themselves. One resident commented, “I never would have thought I could learn to protect myself and feel good about myself while doing it.”
The class taught residents to be aware of their surroundings and how to properly protect themselves. Practicing mindfulness is a basic recovery practice that can be difficult to learn. Through this class residents were exposed to a different way to approach mindfulness.
The experience for all residents was positive and engaging. Residents increased their knowledge in how to defend themselves, discipline, and confidence from learning and executing new skills. As an organization, we are very happy with how the instructors supported our residents. We are excited for our residents to engage in future opportunities and are grateful to Unicorns & Polka Dots support!