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Q&A: Learn about Journey to Freedom program coming to Hudson YMCA

Elin Aldrich, senior program coordinator for Journey to Freedom at the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities

Journey to Freedom, an eight-week group program designed to spur spiritual, mental and emotional growth, is coming to Hudson YMCA starting Sept. 14.

We asked Elin Aldrich, senior program coordinator for Journey to Freedom at the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, to explain what the program is all about.

Q: What is Journey to Freedom?

Journey to Freedom is a small-group process designed to lay the foundation for transformational life change in the areas of spirit, mind and body. Using Christian principles, this discussion-based course will help restore hope and happiness to your life despite your background, experience or beliefs.

The purpose of Journey to Freedom is to build authentic relationships while finding hope despite loneliness, low self-worth, grief, relationship issues, substance abuse, depression or anything holding you back from living in freedom. No matter where you are or what you are facing in life, Journey to Freedom is a safe space to move forward into a preferred future.

Q: Who is this program for, and what can they hope to get out of it?

At any given time, 80 percent of the population is contemplating change, without being ready to step into action. Journey to Freedom prepares individuals for action by building awareness around what to change, when to change, how to change and where change needs to occur. This program is for anyone, 18 and older, who is looking to take an honest assessment of where they're at and move towards positive life change.

Journey to Freedom provides an opportunity to make changes to anything that causes dissatisfaction in your life. Participants benefit from the opportunity to be authentic with others, free from advice or judgment. Everyone's journey is unique, but you can hope to gain deep self-awareness, find hope and motivation and experience supportive community.

Q: What goes on during the group sessions?

You will be part of a small group of six to 10 others in a gender-specific or co-ed format. Two trained facilitators will be there to guide discussion and share their personal journey with you. Your small group will be a safe, supportive, caring and confidential environment. You will never be forced to share anything you aren't comfortable with, nor will you receive advice or judgment from group members or facilitators. In addition to group meetings, you will be reading a book called "Journey to Freedom: Your Start to a Lifetime of Hope, Health, and Happiness."

Q: What was your introduction to Journey to Freedom, and what do you like about it?

I was first introduced to Journey to Freedom at an international YMCA conference in Poland! I was looking for an opportunity to work with people on their mental, emotional and spiritual health, so I pursued the opportunity of becoming a facilitator when I returned home. Little did I know that God had a bigger plan for me to lead the program for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.

What ultimately connected my heart with this process was my personal story. I had been in a place of hopelessness and a cycle of attempting to change without success. Throughout my life, I have experienced low self-worth, doubt, fear, anxiety and loneliness. It wasn't until I went on a journey of self-discovery, acknowledging that I needed help from God and others, that my life was transformed from the inside out.

What I love about Journey to Freedom is that it creates a safe space for people to be authentic with one another, learn things they never knew about themselves, experience healing and ultimately live into a new vision for their life. Time and time again, I see people transformed by this process in ways they never expected, and I learn something new about myself in the process. We are more alike than we are different and people experience that universality in these small groups. It takes courage to look inward and be vulnerable with others, but the benefits that come are extraordinary.

Q: How can people sign up or learn more?

If you are ready to step into change, there is a co-ed group starting at the Hudson YMCA on Sept. 14, meeting from 10:30 a.m. to noon for eight consecutive weeks. You do not have to be a YMCA member to join the group. You can register online at, or by stopping into the YMCA branch. Cost is $40 and includes the book that accompanies the group process.

To learn more visit our website or reach out directly at

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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