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Hillsides ‘Drums Up’ Teamwork at New South Pasadena Family Resource Center
 Anthony Adame of Hillsides Family Resource Center, South Pasadena, leads staff members of Hillsides through a drum circle exercise.

At Hillsides new Family Resource Center, South Pasadena, located at 149 Pasadena Blvd, you’ll find many desks, phones, computers, and oh, 22 colorful hand drums.  

Drums have become Hillsides latest teambuilding tool. Supervisors from across the agency, which serves almost 9,000 individuals throughout Los Angeles County, have begun to incorporate drum circles into their meetings.    

“When everyone drums together, no contribution is less than or more than the other, so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” says Hillsides intern program manager Anthony Adame, who brought the drums to the Hillsides South Pasadena location and leads the drum circles. “There is  also a surge of understanding and connectivity – even though it’s non-verbal – that you can’t get from a traditional meeting.” 

Drumming has other perks for staff as well. “It’s a mindfulness activity,” says Adame, who has been playing the conga drums for more than 20 years.  “When you drum, everything else is put on hold as you focus on the here and now. It puts your mind in an alpha state, which is consistent with a feeling of deep relaxation.” 

Drumming also releases endorphins, feel-good chemicals associated with runner’s high, and has shown to increased the production of T cells to boost the immune system.  One noted music therapist, Christine Stevens, believes drumming is so beneficial for positive mental health, she calls it “Vitamin D.”

The Hillsides Family Resource Center, South Pasadena, is the agency’s newest Resource Center and  will serve families from throughout Northeast Los Angeles.  Hillsides also operates three other Family Resource Centers in Echo Park, Baldwin Park, and Pomona.  The Family Resource Centers offer mental health support, parenting classes, and other  crucial resources for vulnerable children and families throughout Los Angeles County. 

Drumming fits into a cutting edge new mode of therapy Hillsides has adopted called Trauma Informed Care (TIC).  TIC screens and treats clients according to how much trauma they’ve experienced in their lives and stresses self-care of clients and Hillsides employees. Drumming is one of many self-care techniques available for Hillsides employees.  Employees also have access to self-care jars containing soothing tea and treats, weekly inspirational sayings, and a self-care calendar.  In addition, all 475  Hillsides staff have been formally trained in wellness.

Adame hopes to eventually offer drumming circles to clients and the community.  The best thing about drumming is that “everyone can do it,” he says. “People may say they don’t have rhythm, but since everyone has a heart beat, it’s something everyone has.” 

The Family Resource Centers are one of four core programs of Hillsides.  Hillsides, a premier provider of child welfare services headquartered in Pasadena,  also offers a residential treatment services program for children unable to live at home, a therapeutic residential and day school, and a program for youth transitioning from the foster care system to adulthood, Youth Moving On.  To learn more about Hillsides, please visit



Alison Bell
Office: (323) 543-2800 ext. 226
Cell: (626) 390-1640

We provide home-based family care (formerly known as foster care) to help children and youth heal from the effects of trauma. Included in the home-based care are treatment and adoption services for children and youth ranging from newborn to 21 years old. >
Our centers offer numerous community-based programs and services that provide parenting classes, mental health support, and additional crucial resources for vulnerable children and families throughout Los Angeles County, including the San Gabriel Valley and Pasadena. >
We offer comprehensive family support and individual mental health treatment for children and adolescents, ages 6 to 17. This program includes a Residential Treatment Center (RTC), a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), as well as coordinated family and aftercare programming. >
Youth Moving On, with support from The Everychild Foundation, provides former foster youth affordable quality housing and numerous support services to help them become responsible, self-sufficient adults. >

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