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Balance First Workshops is here to support your health, education and artistic passion
My name is Micah Julia Nelson and I grew up loving the arts and committed to giving back to the community. I am the owner of First workshops and Balanced Arts which is the visual arts branch. I created Balance Arts to both raise money for two children’s charities that have impacted my life deeply and to share my art and the art of other female artists. By empowering and sharing the art of my sister artists, we are able to empower the young women of the Jean Augustine Centre and the youth of Trails Youth Initiatives.
My journey with Trails Youth Initiatives began when I was 12 years old as a participant. Trails created incredible stability for me since my parents had separated and I moved between Jamaica and Canada with my mother several times.
From the first day in 1996, Trails became my “home away from home.” A haven where I was given traditions and the structure that I craved. An extra family that provided grounding and constant support. Thanks to Trails, I had the opportunity to travel to Wales to do a horseback riding camping trip in the mountains for the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award. I would never have had that incredible opportunity without Trails.
After graduating high school, thanks to Trails I was a Danielle Dion Bursary recipient. This bursary covered my post secondary education and it included mentorship from Mr. Sylvain Dion. It was like having another Dad checking up on me. Despite him being a very busy and successful businessman, he was always there for me, providing guidance, checking on my grades and genuinely caring for me and wanting me to succeed. When my own dad was diagnosed with cancer and moved in with me towards the end of his life, Sylvain was there to help me through.
Deeply inspired by my Trails experience, I studied International Development Studies because I wanted to positively impact the lives of women and youth. Trails gave me the tools that I required to influence the next generation. While on an internship in Botswana, I shifted my focus to helping children find balance through mindfulness and yoga. I was inspired by my neighbour’s kids who asked me to teach them yoga in Botswana, this ignited something within me. I wrote about this life changing journey in the bestselling book, Ignite Your Adventurous Spirit. When I returned to Toronto, I became an elementary school teacher, yoga instructor and natural health practitioner.
With my combination of skills, I started a wellness and education business called Balance First Workshops. I am privileged to give back to the community and to share my mindful art practices at the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment, a centre offering free after school programs for girls, some in challenging situations. The Jean Augustine Centre was very influential in me beginning Balanced Arts since I use art to empower and bring joy to the girls at the centre. Many of the pieces in my art collection are from my mindful art classes for children and women. Art and mindfulness are truly transformative and have helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life.
I have also given back to the Trails community, maintaining a close relationship with those who have made such a difference in my life. Since graduating, I have been a part-time facilitator, a graduate mentor, a volunteer and now I serve on the Board of Directors.
Trails empowered me to pursue my dreams and to stay committed to my goals despite challenges. I have learned that I can push through and overcome anything. In the summer of 2020 I became the Hurst Legacy Award recipient, named after the founder of Trails, Jim Hayhurst Sr. It was such an honour to receive this award but also a bit sad since he passed away February 2020 – Hurst was like a dad to me and I will be forever grateful for my experiences at Trails that influenced and impacted my life.
Thank you once again for supporting Balanced Arts and for empowering women and youth!