Healing Hearts Haven originated from the idea of one attorney who felt she could make a difference outside the juvenile justice system rather than from within it. The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) came to South Dakota in 2011 and began within the larger metropolitan areas of the state. Developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, it was implemented as a juvenile justice system improvement initiative aimed at community collaboration to provide the best possible outcome for youth and access to justice.
Striving to create a program to offer services for youth with the JDAI mission in mind, Ashley Anson got her start by partnering with the Davison County Diversion Coordinator out of Mitchell, South Dakota. She collaborated to help revive Davison County's evening reporting center, a previously implemented service provided by the county for teens to participate in productive after-school activities which were aimed at keeping kids from trouble-making behavior due to lack of supervision, and which offered a structured atmosphere for completing homework among other things.
Ashley brought her innovative ideas working with art, yoga, and mindfulness to the existing diversion program to gain experience working with local teens on diversion in exchange for offering Davison County youth an alternative to other services already available in the community. This in turn helped youth fulfill their obligations on diversion. Soon, Ashley's ideas to extend the one night a week teen diversion program into a full-time service in the community and offered to the general public took hold, leading to the birth of Healing Hearts Haven. We are an arts studio offering creative classes such as yoga, painting, drawing, creative writing, sensory play, cooking classes, reading hours, and team building to offer services to families in our community. Our mission is to provide access to productive and creative outlets for youth of all backgrounds in hopes to offer children healthy activities in the community and to propel them into a brighter tomorrow.
Ashley Anson is the owner and founder of Healing Hearts Haven. Ashley Anson has been a practicing lawyer since 2015 turned certified children's yoga instructor in 2021; a graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law, she served on the Board of Editors for the South Dakota Law Review. She also earned her Masters of Environmental Law and Policy, magna cum laude, from the Vermont Law School, and has focused her practice on criminal law, juvenile law, and abuse and neglect proceedings.
Ashley grew up in Wessington Springs, South Dakota, and attended Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Creative Writing. She also attended the Art Institute of Colorado for a degree in Multimedia Arts and Animation, and although she did not finish that degree, she has extensive experience in oil painting, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, singing, poetry, writing, and other crafting hobbies. Her current endeavors include combining her legal, art, and environmental policy backgrounds to bring all forms of art: painting; sculpture; culinary; gardening and farm to table; music; and literature, to children of all ages in hopes to promote healthy behaviors and provide productive classes that cultivate creativity for youth in our communities.
Ashley has always had a passion for art, and working with at risk youth inspired her to get back to her creative roots and offer a unique service for all youth that is near and dear to her heart. She has aimed to heal her own wounded soul through rediscovering her inner voice and speaking out about injustices for youth and lack of resources in our communities. Helping children find their center through self-discovery and re-wiring the trauma-affected brain has become her new purpose in life, and she aspires to end the stigma surrounding mental and emotional health as they relate to stress-induced anxiety, social media, bullying, immediate gratification, and recidivism of delinquent behavior in at-risk communities and to integrate a whole body approach to healing through healthy minds, healthy bodies, and healthy spirits, and a whole system approach through healthy families.