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The Breathe Experience

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Thursday 7:00 am 9:00 am

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Meet the people behind The Healing Academy.

From Left to Right

Dionne Victoria is an educator and Chicago artist whose artwork is a meditative tool to heal and express the internal landscape of the soul in an external world. Her artwork can be viewed nationally and she has exhibited internationally. Dionne Victoria has exhibited in the United States Congress Library for a year as well as in the Museum of Science and Industry on numerous occasions. Currently her art can be viewed at the Zhou B Art Center where her studio is located. She travelled to South Korea where she taught English, using art. While there, she started an art as therapy group with other international teachers suffering from culture shock. Once returning back to the states she started volunteering at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center doing art as therapy with young men who were in the middle of determination. As her love of science grew she began developing a science-arts integration curriculum while teaching at SkyArt, Northwestern University Center for Talent and Development as well as her at own arts studio, Dionne Victoria Studios, INC. She began curating under Tye Johnson Artistry but branched off to create her own community-based organization the Butterfly Community which focuses on change through the three E’s education, exhibitions and entrepreneurship. Securing her Masters in Teaching from the University of Chicago opened the door to working with teens in a more in-depth scale. She began partnering with the University of Chicago’s Art Incubator teaching the skills necessary to operate an arts organization. She is a Field/WORK resident at the Chicago Artist Coalition where she is working to hone her art business skills while expanding her network of artists. She is also in the Bridge Program at the Hyde Park Art Center. Dionne partners with the South Side Community Art Center to offer art as therapy to adults and science-art education to children. She helped to found the Sister Circle of the South Side, a sisterhood devoted to the empowerment of those who take part in it and started Dinner with Dionne, an open invitation to meditation and dinner. 


Born and raised on the Westside of Chicago, Tuyeni Akanke, is a 31 year old woman with wise ancestral wisdom within her. Tuyeni is a master educator, evolving entrepreneur, published author, urban healer, and an artist of spoken-word-poetry and dance.  


In 2010 she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Fashion Merchandising from Howard University, and in 2013 she graduated with a dual Masters degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Lesley University. 


In 2014 Tuyeni embarked on a journey to find spiritual and emotional healing, and with the help of powerful women and the universe, Tuyeni learned the work of filling the gaps of her literacy development in order to heal on the emotional and spiritual levels. 


This journey led her to create Truth Inspires You, an education consulting company determined to provide literacy centered professional development to the people who occupy careers that are meant to serve our most vulnerable and oppressed populations.


Before leaving the classroom in June 2018, Tuyeni was a literacy and humanities teacher for 7 years, with experience in the K-12 traditional network, as well as the alternative and adult education sectors. 


Tuyeni is available for professional development workshops, youth identity development classes, motivational speaking engagements, private consultations and spoken-word and dance performances.

You can find her at or at


Natalie Battles is a force to be reckoned with and is an all-around threat! Natalie is an actor, teacher, event-coordinator, rapper, poet, model, radio personality, motivational speaker, and director. She uses her skills to help heal and educate the Melanated community by creating content that tells our stories, shapes artists, aids us in finding our voices, and seeing ourselves in a positive light. Natalie got involved in the arts in Middle School and never looked back. Shortly after, she started formal training. She went through Teen Talk Theater for four years where she learned radio broadcasting, script- writing, acting and a host of other skills. 

She then went on to get her B.A. in Theater Studies with a focus on acting, directing, and properties from Northern Illinois University. While in college Natalie acted and was lead prop director for NIU Theater and Main Stage Productions. She performed, directed, event-coordinated, instructed, became programming vice- president of Neptune Hall council of the Resident Hall Association, President of The Black Theater Workshop, and was inducted into Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated. 

After finishing her undergrad Natalie started teaching theater and performance workshops to the youth. This led her to Metro then back to Teen Talk Theater where she taught and mentored the teens in the program. She also hosted the Teen Talk Theater Radio show until the show ended in 2017. In February 2016 Natalie became Office Manager at the South Side Community Art Center. She launched her career in motivational speaking during a tour in the summer of 2016. The tour was focused on empowering Chicago’s youth. 

Today Natalie has founded Melanated In America which is a cultural media platform, which includes a blog, television show, clothing line, and radio show, telling our stories and highlighting black own businesses and artists. She is getting ready to celebrate three years of the “Sister Circle of the South Side,” a group she founded. Which is a group of women of all ages that come together to support, assist and empower each other through all phases that women go through? Natalie is currently working on opening a school and community center focused on arts, literacy, holistic health and healing, and African and African -American history and culture.

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