Racial Healing Circles


Do you long to connect and strengthen our community, even as we practice social distancing? Join the YMCA of Austin and Austin Health Commons for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Circles, coming up on August 1 and August 6, 2020. The circles will be held as virtual gatherings, given COVID-19 safety measures.

The gatherings are free and open to YMCA members of all backgrounds, ages, abilities, and identities, as well as the public, so please share this invitation and help spread the word. Registration is open now and closes on Thursday, July 30,  for the August 1 circle and on Tuesday, August 4, for the August 6 circle.

register here

In 2019, about 200 YMCA members participated in Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Circles, in person at six branches of the Y. YMCA District Executive Director Tiffany Patterson, who participated in a circle, said the experience aligns with our Y mission to strengthen community for all.

“It was really powerful hearing stories and sharing about different ways race relations have been very painful and how we’ve each navigated that,” Patterson said. “We want a world where racism doesn’t exist, where equity does exist, where social justice exists. If those are goals of yours, I think this is a step in that direction. I encourage folks to sign up and show up. It sparks that courage inside of you. It is time well spent.”

Q&A about Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Circles:

What is Truth, Racial Healing, Transformation?

Truth, Racial Healing, Transformation TRHT) is a format developed by Dr. Gail Christopher, over 10 years while she served as Vice President for Policy and Senior Advisor for the Kellogg Foundation. The TRHT Circle allows us to develop a deeper understanding of our shared humanity by telling our truths. When we share our stories, we find common ground with those who we perceive as different and build connections that transcend the perceived hierarchy of human value.

What will we do in the Circle?

Trained Racial Healing Facilitators will guide participants through deep sharing. Participants are invited to share their truths and heart stories, and in doing so, to develop a deeper understanding of others who may be perceived as different. You will meet new people, listen deeply, share your truths, and give affirming responses.

How does the TRHT Circle heal?

Humans are innately wired for connection, and connecting with others in a supportive and safe way is healing. When we connect deeply with another human being, this automatically lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, and raises the bonding-joy hormone, oxytocin, in the brain. Thus, when we leave the Circle we actually leave with less stress than when we began; a healing experience.

Do I have to share a story?

Sharing is always by invitation. If you do not feel ready to share your story with the group, we will absolutely honor that. That said, we believe that each person has a valuable story that others in the group can learn from. Sharing your story allows you to receive the affirming comments from the group and fully experience the healing that comes thereafter.


Q&A provided by Austin Health Commons. For more information, please contact Rev. Erin Walter, Director of Community Engagement and Social Responsibility, TownLake YMCA, at erin.walter@austinymca.org.


Erin Walter
All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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