By Kristen Lutz
AMTA-MA Chapter Newsletter & Email Editor
I had the pleasure of "sitting down" with one of our 2020 Dianne Polseno Scholarship Recipient, Leigh Salvage, to get to know a little more about how this award will affect her and her future practice. Leigh was the recipient of $500 and a free year of AMTA-MA membership. Did you know we have one $1,000 and two $500 (PLUS A YEAR OF FREE AMTA MEMBERSHIP!) just waiting for some brilliant and talented souls to take home each year? Here's what Leigh had to say about how the scholarship will make an impact on her career.
Q. How did you hear about the Dianne Polseno Scholarship?
A. I learned about the scholarship in an email that I received as I was just trying to figure out how to cover all of my expenses for massage school.
Q. Where are you attending school and do you have a favorite class/area of study?
A. I'm attending the massage school in Easthampton. Almost every single class is my favorite. But I did love reflexology & kinesiology, which I expected. Sports massage was amazing and I loved it more than I expected. Learning about intersections with trauma healing and consent issues gave me hope for the future. Our projects on presenting A & P in groups and researching special topics in pairs was awesome. I loved learning how massage can help children with disabilities & people with medical issues. I also loved doing our vision boards and bonding with my classmates; learning about their dreams and supporting each other.
I’ve really loved working with the aging & other populations in the clinic. It's gratifying to know that people have the potential to move with more ease, be in less pain, have more joy, be at peace, and improve their health through massage. When you can move with more confidence and less pain, you can exercise more and your overall health is better. I believe we are helping extend our clients' lives as well as improving them in a way that is still very under appreciated in our society.
The clinic has been amazing. I can’t wait to get back to it after we figure out how to move forward after this quarantine time.
Q. What will be the first thing you do with your Scholarship Award? If you're not sure, you can talk about some ways the money will help you prepare for the start of your practice.
A. As a single mom, it helps with getting through school. I'm hoping I can save it so that I can further my study to become certified in pediatric massage and then specialize in working with premature babies, kids with disabilities and autism, families or individuals living with hospice care and other specialty areas. I hope to someday research the health benefits of massage in children with disabilities and other health issues and hope to bring this knowledge and practice to areas of the world where many will benefit or even have higher survival rates.
There are several other modalities I would love to get certification in such as energy work & reflexology. I learned about the cadaver study from reading the interview with the winner of this award from last year! That’s now on my bucket list of furthering my education. The more all of us understand our bodies, the better!
I would also love to pursue dance and music therapy someday. I love how Feldenkrais supplements both health care and massage, and there’s a young person in my life with disabilities and I would love to see them try out Feldenkrais to see if it helps them.
The money will help me relax a but overall in terms of my finances for the first year, which will hopefully help in all aspects. My basic goal is to help people get in touch with and love their bodies, love themselves more, and prioritize their own physical, emotional and spiritual well being enough to take the time for self care whether they can afford a massage every week or only a few times a year. Working with the homeless population is a goal of mine as well. I hope to make massage accessible to all regardless of income or background and love that other practitioners in the field share this passion!
Q. How will the Award make an impact on your massage therapy practice?
A. I did not know Diane at all but I’ve heard how loving, generous and inspirational she was. It makes me feel like I’m part of something larger than myself. I’ll be carrying forward a spirit of someone that was devoted to the highest callings of this practice and the importance of always learning more. It makes me feel more connected to the community of massage therapists and less just doing this myself.
I also want to thank many friends and family who donated many small and some larger amounts to my fundraiser when I was deciding if I could afford massage school and the handful of LMT friends who offered much advice and total support when I was unsure. Your belief in me and financial support nudged me in this direction and this change in my life was absolutely one of best decisions, if not THE best, that I’ve ever made in my life.
Q. What would you like to say to next year's applicants?
A. Apply! Listen to your heart, follow your dreams, speak your truth! If you don’t get the scholarship, apply for other scholarships. Ask for help. Commit to start a scholarship someday for someone else so no one has to feel held back by lack of finances. I’m hoping that we can see even a bit more accessibility than we already have with massage therapy training. It’s definitely a more accessible profession than many, but it still could be a little more accessible. I would like to see programs taught in both Spanish and English and translators available for anyone who feels drawn to this profession! In any language. If you’ve got the healing touch, develop it and learn more about it.
Q. Why is it important for people to contribute to the Dianne Polseno Scholarship Fund?
A. Contributing to this scholarship has ripple of fact that you won’t even be able to imagine fully. You’re promoting equity, health and basically spreading love. There are so many creative individuals that have powerful healing energy that aren’t sure how they’re going to bring their life together to bring this gift to the world and it can enable that to happen. One massage therapist that is passionate about this and working hard against financial odds, will likely have hundreds if not thousands of people that they help heal and benefit in their lifetime. They also might be the next person to discover some research that helps many people, or even starts a new modality that could improve many things!