by Kate Williams
Geneviève Henry—Genie to the many people she’s worked with and befriended over the years—is one of The Safety Team’s dedicated volunteers. Originally from Quebec City, she now resides in Burlington Vermont along with her husband and their four children. She is a certified childbirth educator, labor and postpartum doula, and massage therapist. She is also an adjunct professor of French at Champlain College and a second-degree brown belt of Kempo Jujitsu, a self-defense–based martial art.
Genie found The Safety Team back in 2015, after her then fourteen-year-old daughter was mugged. This scary event highlighted the need for her daughter to know how to defend herself, not only from muggings but from other situations teenaged girls often face. A simple Google search for self-defense classes in Burlington led Genie straight to The Safety Team.
Both she and her daughter attended a Level One workshop. They greatly enjoyed not only the lessons they were learning but the camaraderie among the group leaders. They quickly signed up for the Level Two workshop. It was there they realized that they really liked hitting the pads and wanted more. They asked some of The Safety Team members for training recommendations and were pointed to Martial Way, a dojo that focuses on self-defense–based martial arts.
Even though they were receiving formal training, they still signed up for the Level Three workshop. After, both she and her daughter decided that they wanted to do more, so they joined The Safety Team as volunteers. They started out holding pads for other participants during the workshops. Eventually, her daughter worked as an intern with The Safety Team before heading off to college. These days, Genie can be found leading instructional parts of the training and is working toward becoming a fully certified Safety Team presenter.
Genie loves working with the small groups, saying how great it is to see people grow during the workshops and how she “likes to see the tiger roar out of them.” She also appreciates how the information presented in the workshops is based on the latest research. She loves the skits that The Safety Team do, feeling it brings a sense of humor and fun to serious topics. She finds great inspiration in the women of The Safety Team, many of whom are black belts and brown belts in addition to being trauma-informed professionals.
Genie encourages anyone thinking about participating in one of The Safety Team’s workshops to give it a try. She says that there is no special training needed and they can adapt the workshops to anyone’s particular needs/situation. She also encourages everyone to bring a friend, as the classes can be less intimidating that way. She also believes that just coming to a workshop means you are supporting the empowerment of women and the program, because every penny goes directly back into getting the information out there. Everyone is a volunteer at The Safety Team!
Genie’s desire to empower women is reflected in her day jobs as well. She works to empower pregnant women to have the birth journey they want, teaching that their consent must be given before the birth team performs any procedure. She also wants to develop a self-defense class offered entirely in French for women at Champlain College who want to both further their knowledge of the language and stay safe in all situations.
Her father was known to tell his three daughters, “If you think you’re gonna be in a fight, always hit first.” While she’s not sure how wise that advice is, it’s always stuck with her. These days, she knows that even if she doesn’t get that first hit in, she can block, parry, kick, and yes hit, with the best of them.
Genie’s dedication to the empowerment of women flows through all her endeavors, be they in the dojo, at a workshop, or in her professional life. Her sense of humor and kindness cuts through what can be difficult subjects and makes the information fun and relatable. She’s an invaluable member of The Safety Team, and we look forward to being able to present more workshops with her in the future.