Transformative Movement Practices

At Return to the Roots, we believe movement helps us come home to ourselves and build a relationship with our bodies, intuition and our internal light. Movement turns down the mental noise and allows us to access a purer knowing. From there, we an move through our daily lives from a clearer place. This is especially true when we are in spaces full of freedom and non-judgment.

Every week, Return to the Roots’ Founder, Brighid O'Shaughnessy, offers opportunities to do this through the practice of Nia. Nia blends the dance, martial and healing arts together, all done to energizing and breathtaking music, to help people trust in their own bodies ability to guide them, to find true joy in movement, and to access that inner guide that exists in each of us. Brighid has been a student of Nia for 20 years and a teacher for 10 and finds great pleasure in sharing it with others on a weekly basis.

Come join her in Oak Park on Wednesdays and Sundays! She's also subbing Tuesdays in July at 9 a.m. through the Park District!

Oak Park Ridgeland Commons
415 Lake St, Oak Park, IL 60302

Click here for a flyer for her event on July 13th, 2024 combining Nia and Circle Gathering on the theme of Dreams + Possibilities!

Brighid leads Nia classes twice a week in Oak Park, IL. All are welcome!

Praise for our Transformative Movement Practices

"For me, Nia with Brighid is both a grounding place, emotionally and physically, and a gateway to joy and possibility. This happens every Sunday morning because of the commitment, creativity and loving energy Brighid brings to our class. She fosters community with plentiful breathing space for individuality. P.S. Her music and choreography truly rock!"

— Marion P, Movement Student

"Brighid's Nia classes are the highlights of my week. Energetic, creative, soul-soothing, fun and life-affirming are just some of the words I can use to describe the class. I always walk away feeling better than when I walked in. Her welcoming attitude is contagious, She is an inspiration every time!"

— Barb, Movement Student

"Brighid brings such a positive, welcoming, and wise energy to all of her classes. She creates a space where we not only have a great physical workout that is adaptable and accessible to all, but she also invites us to be more reflective and meditative if we choose to go deeper. She offers us ways to make connections between what we practice in the class to our wider lives. "Take up space! Grow your roots! Spread your wings!" are just a few examples of the invitations that Brighid offers!"

— Isabelle G., Movement Student

At Return to the Roots, we believe that by sharing our truth with others, we allow both our light and our darkness to be seen, heard, and related to by others instead of hidden away. When we witness one another’s stories, it is almost inevitable that we feel less alone. We can realize, "Wow, I am not the only one who has felt this way or gone through this. Maybe we can walk through this together. Maybe I can not just survive this, but come out on the other side. "

Return to the Roots Founder, Brighid O’Shaughnessy, has been collecting and sharing stories through theater for the last 25 years and continues to do so. The bulk of her work has been around issues of mental health through the non-profit she founded and led for over a decade, Erasing the Distance, but she has also explored other topics related to the concept of home and belonging. These include pieces like the Folded Map Project (pictured here), Flames, Flaws and Freedom, and Daddy's Girl with Penelope Walker for Lifeline's 2024 Fillet of Solo.

Brighid’s upcoming project is called It’s A Long Way Home chronicling her own family’s story with transracial adoption. If you would like to be involved or are interested in learning more, contact Return to the Roots here.

Storytelling + Theater Experiences


Praise for our Storytelling + Theater Experiences

"Everything about the performance reminded me of why I love theater. The way that theater can hold the painful and the beautiful, the pain and the joy, the mystery of not being able to understand what is happening when our life hands us contradictions. Your work is a true gift to your audiences. And it made me laugh really hard!"

— Erin, Audience Member from Daddy's Girl, Directed by Brighid O'Shaughnessy

"I’m pretty much still floating on a cloud from this incredible night. Thank you Brighid O'Shaughnessy! It was as if everything that exists in our bellies and hearts as women came into the air and we all breathed it in together. The incredible talents that made this night possible, I’m beyond grateful! .... (After tonight, I'm in even more love with being a woman!)"

—Heather, Audience Member from Flames, Flaws and Freedom

Restorative Justice

We are all part of systems — whether that is our family system, the schools we work at or have our children at, or the health care we must use to meet our needs. Return to the Roots specifically works within the school system and other places where youth are because we believe that they are our future and we must support them if we are going to survive and thrive as a world.

Inspired by her own family's challenges with the school and health care systems, Return to the Roots’ Founder, Brighid O’Shaughnessy, grew a passion for addressing larger-scale opportunities for healing and transformation. After receiving a Masters in Social Work with a focus on Trauma from The University of Chicago, she has spent the last five years working within schools on the South and West sides of Chicago. Her focus is on advocating for the rights of youth through Restorative and Transformative Justice, especially youth of color, those with disabilities, and/or those who are neurodivergent.

Through this work, Return to the Roots facilitates practices that help both youth and adults access their inner light, build healthy relationships, address harm when it happens and engage in daily work to create spaces of safety and belonging.

Ways to work with us

Return to the Roots is available for:

  • Professional Development (Topics can include:)

    • Determining your Workplace Mission, Vision and Values

    • De-escalation Approaches to Working with Students

    • Reimagining Discipline

    • Social and Emotional Living for Adults

    • Strengths Based Support for Neurodivergent Students

    • Restorative Justice 101

    • Talking Circle Facilitation

    • Holding Restorative Conversations

    • Peace Circle Facilitation

    • RJ Focused Impact and Transformational Action Mapping

  • Long term Coaching, Mentorship and Consultation Work (This can be for administrators, teachers, staff, SECA's, parents, after school employees, recess/lunch monitors, etc...)

  • Support to Embed RJ into Macro + Micro Level Decision Making

  • Diverse Learner Advocacy, including IEP support, family + teacher strategizing

  • Family and Parent Coaching

  • Speaking Engagements and Social Work Class Visits

  • Conference Workshops

  • Podcast Guest Appearances

Click the above links for information about some past events including Oak Park Public Library's Restorative Practices Conference as well as Brighid's feature on a Chicago area podcast.

To begin the conversation, please email Brighid O'Shaughnessy at

Brighid's work at Kellman Elementary School alongside Visual Artist + Muralist, Rhonda Gray

Brighid's RJ Workshop at Oak Park Public Library's Restorative Practices Conference

Praise for our Restorative Justice Work

"One of Brighid’s exceptional talents is her natural gift for listening and affirming others. She creates a space where everyone feels heard and valued, fostering a sense of trust and openness. Her approachability is remarkable and her insights into student behavior and restorative practices have been enlightening. Through our collaboration, I have learned a great deal, and her guidance has undoubtedly improved my approach."

— Vanessa O., Stevenson School Counselor

"You have helped me open up and share more about my life. You are literally the nicest teacher in the whole school. Seeing you in the talking circles being so kind and interested in what the kids have to say told me that I can come to you and you will be there for me. You have shown me every day since then that this is the truth."

— Gianna B., 5th grade Student

"I loved your ideas and overall approach to helping my son! It was a breath of fresh air. I look forward to seeing how using his ADHD to his advantage will be. Thank you for your kindness and your next level expertise, Brighid!"

— G. L., Public School Mom of a 1st grader


Restorative Justice in Action

At Return to the Roots, we believe that schools can be places of both safety and belonging as well as transformation.

Check out this podcast where Brighid was interviewed about her work in Trauma-Responsive Restorative Justice.