Hannah Ramlo is the founder and executive director of Soulside Healing Arts, a nonprofit organization working to make yoga and mindfulness practices accessible to all. The studio launched with a successful crowdfunding campaign and was the only nonprofit to make it to the top five of more than 100 entries in Bradley University’s Big Ideas competition. Its offerings are “pay-as-you-can”—those who can afford the suggested donation enable Soulside to welcome others who don’t have the financial means.
In addition to its brick-and-mortar location, Soulside offers classes in social service, educational and corporate settings to bring healing to the entire community. Within a few months of opening, Ramlo won a grant from the Heart of Illinois United Way to expand yoga offerings to students at Whittier Primary School, a program that now reaches all Whittier students in kindergarten and first grade.
Supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Central Illinois, Ramlo created a fellowship for six Soulside teachers to complete trauma-informed yoga training, making their practices more effective for those who have experienced poverty, incarceration or violence. She has led orientations in trauma-informed yoga for dozens of teachers, educators and social service workers, as well as organizations and studios across the Midwest. She also spearheaded Peoria’s first holistic wellness festival in 2019.
As founder of the Peoria Coalition Working to End Money Bond, Ramlo organized local supporters in the cause to end pretrial incarceration, which led to a coalition made up of the NAACP Peoria Chapter, ACLU Peoria, Change Peoria and the Black Justice Project. She conducted outreach for PIAvotes.com, a grassroots initiative created for the 2017 local election which resulted in a database of information on all Council and mayoral candidates and has since been taken over by the League of Women Voters. She also volunteers her time for the Renaissance Park Community Association, working to build community and beautify the West Main Street corridor in Peoria’s West Bluff neighborhood. PM