LKF on a Mission to Bring Healthy Touch to Children - Living Well Magazine
by Brian F. Strauss
When Tina Allen became a massage therapist, she never could have guessed the effect that her passion would have on others. She provides education, inspiration and certification for those who wish to work with infants and their families, and even more so to the healthcare providers who want to incorporate nurturing touch into their services with ill and hospitalized children. Now with over a decade of service to children and families, Allen has become an internationally respected educator and expert in the field of infant, children's and pediatric massage therapy.
At various points in her career, she has not only worked with and treated those of all ages from the adult non-ambulatory to the terminally ill and the frail elderly, but also hospitalized infants and children. Allen has chosen children around the world, arguably the most important to focus her work on - although success in her own mind is purely conditional on the caliber of her Liddle Kidz Foundation’s work.
Since its inception, the goal of the Liddle Kidz Foundation has been to empower families and professionals to provide nurturing touch: building stronger, more loving bonds with children. Liddle Kidz Foundation provides training, education, and support for families and professionals, giving them the tools necessary to ensure the safe, professional practice of nurturing touch and developmental movement with infants and children. “We train everyone from massage therapists wishing to expand their career to work in pediatrics, to pediatricians wanting to incorporate natural healing with families, and even financial analysts and welders looking to change careers,” says Allen.
Tina's innovative approach to children's health has allowed her the unique opportunity to educate families and professionals throughout the world in the many benefits of nurturing and compassionate touch. Allen managed the nation’s first comprehensive pediatric massage program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), where she trained volunteer massage therapists and medical professionals to work with hospitalized Rehabilitation patients, medically complex infants in the Center for Newborn and Infant Critical Care (CNICC), Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Children with Retinoblastoma, Spina Bifida and Cerebral Palsy. She developed pediatric massage programs at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, as well as developed a program focusing on introducing gentle compassionate touch to women and children who have survived domestic abuse.
She walks her talk. In 2009, Tina Allen will be inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame. "After years of service to the massage profession and for impacting the field in a direction few have chosen, working with youth, it is with great pleasure and gratitude that I acknowledge Tina Allen as an Inductee into the 2009 Massage Therapy Hall of Fame,” says Mike Hinkle, Founder of the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame.
Most recently, the Liddle Kidz Foundation has been responsible for the launch of the first-of-it’s-kind infant and pediatric massage educational tour. In an effort to bring infant and pediatric massage education to others around the country, Tina Allen with the support of her husband, recording artist, Shad Hills, decided to take her Liddle Kidz Foundation on the road and bring the training and educational programs to everyone. “Not everyone has the ability to travel to take courses, so instead we’re taking to the courses to them.” says Allen. “Yes, the costs of diesel are a high price to pay at the pump. However, there can’t be a price placed on doing something you love and being sure children receive healthy and nurturing touch. Children are our future and if we don’t start providing healthy touch now, we’re going to pay the price when those children are in charge of the world we live in.”
Allen and her husband gave up their residence in Los Angeles and distributed everything they owned to the family, friends, local charities and thrift stores. If it didn't fit in one of the couple dozen cabinets or bays in their tour bus, it had to go. The same principle still applies now. If either one buys a new item, an old item must go to a nearby thrift store.
"We're definitely not into collecting items we don’t need anymore," says Allen. “Now we collect memories.” Over the Fourth-of-July they had the luxury of spending two weeks with some dear old friends relaxing in a state park by the Missouri River, and both just love to stop and take pictures of all the “Welcome-To” signs welcoming the Liddle Kidz Tour Bus to each new state they enter. “At times I feel like I’ve already retired and then I realize, I have to provide a training next weekend,” says Allen. “So in many ways I guess you could say I am one of a new generation of “working retired”. However, my work doesn’t feel like work at all. ”
Now, her Liddle Kidz Foundation is bringing these educational trainings to the nation through their Infant and Pediatric North American Massage Touch Tour. The North American Touch Tour is a traveling infant and pediatric massage series of presentations, workshops and educational opportunities for families and professionals sponsored by the Liddle Kidz Foundation. The Tour Series launched in Los Angeles in March and has scheduled appearances in San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle, Boise, Boulder, Omaha, Des Moines, Madison, Milwaukee, Delaware, New York, Manchester, Ottawa, Toronto, Grand Rapids and Calgary, continues through the Midwest and West Coast, before taking a tour break to provide educational workshops in Thailand and Turkey.
For their stop in Delaware, the Liddle Kidz Foundation teamed up with Delaware’s very own Patty Draper, Founder of September Mornings, to bring an array of special events to the community. September Mornings provides a unique blend of massage therapy services for children who are living with special needs or may be battling the challenges that accompany chronic illness. Services include individualized massage therapy programs developed by licensed practitioners who are specialized in training to work with your child's special needs, as well as providing educational support for families, caregivers and healthcare providers alike. September Mornings also provides relaxation and therapeutic massage services to those individuals who wish to support our Mission in touching the lives of those children who we deeply and passionately serve.
Allen’s motto, “Children are our greatest gift and should be treated with extraordinary care,” is one we should all live by.
Tina Allen and the Liddle Kidz Foundation Touch Tour will be touring North America throughout the end of the year.