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CARISSA CARICATOFOUNDEr/CHIEF EXECUTIVE HOOLA-GAN

After my first life-changing, heart-awakening trip to Haiti in January 2009, I started taking hoop dance classes with the Hoola Monsters. When I took a bunch of travel hoops back to Haiti for Christmas in 2009, they were a magical way to interact with the kids (and adults) everywhere! I fell in love, with hooping, Haiti, the contagious joy of the children, but more importantly, with Jesus and His love for the whole world.

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, God began to shake and move my world around. After two more trips to Haiti and lots of divine stories, I started Hoola for Happiness in July 2010 to spread the joy of hooping and the love of God all over the world through hooping projects and partnerships. I quit my nonprofit marketing job at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay after 3.5 years there to pursue Jesus’ call on my life to focus on Hoola for Happiness full time.

Our team of Joy Spreaders have been to 73 countries since 2010, and as God opens doors, we are hooping right through them. Following God is the craziest adventure you could ask for, and it is so worth it for the JOY He brings!

My Hoop Places: Haiti, Brazil, England (London), Kenya, Uganda, India, Dubai, United States/Hawaii, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Czech Republic (Prague), Poland, Israel

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND. -2 Timothy 1:7

 
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LAURA UCHOA | JOY SPREADER, BAMBOLE PARA ALEGRIA (SAO PAULO, BRAZIL)

Laura is the leader of the Bambolê Para Alegria project (Hoola for Happiness Brazil), based in Sao Paulo (city of Maua). She is passionate about dancing for Jesus, teaching dance as worship, discipleship and loving on kids who come from difficult backgrounds. Laura also participates on the leadership team for REGAR, a unified worship dance leadership council for all of Brazil. They actively participate in street outreach, social projects of dance, missionary training for the arts and participation in events such as World Cup and the Olympics.

Laura has trained hoop missionaries all over Brazil through this partnership for street outreach & kids social dance projects, as well as hosted a Hoola for Happiness world leadership convocation in 2016 for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, while dancing in the streets to glorify our great God!

 
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DEEP SHIKHA | JOY SPREADER, Hoola For happiness india (RANCHI, Jharkhand)

Deep Shikha is our India coordinator of the Hoola for Happiness India project, working with our missions partner Good News Centre Ranchi in North India. She joined the team in December 2011 and has been a super part of our global team!

Deep Shikha has a background in dance choreography and a special heart for helping kids through social dance projects in poor areas. She has graduated with her MBA and oversees Hoola for Life hoop production in India. She traveled with our India team to start hoop dance movement therapy programs with rescued girls with International Justice Mission in 2014 and 2015. She continues to lead hoop projects all over India with a team of Joy Spreader volunteers.

 
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RENELLE SNELLEKSZ | JOY SPREADER, Hoola for Happiness india (MUMBAI)

Meet Renelle- an amazing, hilarious, joyful, dancing, hooping, Jesus-loving, world-changing beauty who is now officially coordinating H4H India’s efforts in Mumbai! Renelle has worked alongside our H4H India team during the administration of hoop projects in her area, and she brings her own skills in therapeutic dance along with her. Not only that, she has also beautifully incorporated hoops in her existing social projects.

A former TV entertainment news anchor, Renelle resigned from her last assignment after working for six years at the leading TV network Times Now to pursue her passion for dance and social change. Now, through bringing dance/ dance movement therapy into places like the slums, women’s prisons, children’s cancer centers, aftercare homes for girls/ young women rescued from sex trafficking, and more, Renelle is living out her passions. 

Renelle is now an independent dance movement therapy practitioner, and she loves using therapeutic dance as a tool for non-verbal communication and a vehicle for healing, recovery, restoration and transformation. Renelle’s Dance Movement Therapy initiative is called AL!VE – Rise to Dance Again. She partners with reputed organizations like International Justice Mission, the Indian Cancer Society and Save the Children (India) among others. She has been trained and represents Kolkata Sanved, pioneers of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) in India. In addition to this, Renelle also handles the creative production for an art therapy and vocational training project for women under trials in prison in Mumbai called AL!VE.

 

KARA TERESI | BOARD MEMBER

Hi! I’m Kara Teresi and I have the JOY of working with Shiloh Farm Retreat Center in Tampa, Florida.  I was on the first official H4H trip to Haiti with Founder and friend, Carissa Caricato. I have also traveled to St. Lucia and spread the JOY of hooping there. Locally, I have hooped with kids at Metropolitan Ministries, The Children’s Home, Hope Children’s Home, Dream Center of Tampa Bay and Joshua House.

Carissa and I became friends in 2010 when I shared my own passion for soccer and desire to visit the people of Haiti. After seeing Carissa come alive as she described a similar passion for hoola hooping and the Haitian people, I knew that God was doing something amazing. In March 2011, we traveled together to Haiti with soccer balls and hoola hoops in hand.

In soccer there are rules and guidelines, but with hoola hooping there’s a freedom about it. Unfortunately, many women and children across the globe have little freedom to participate in soccer and are often left sitting on the sidelines as spectators. Hooping gives them hope. They get to participate, have fun and stay active. Once you’ve broken the barrier of getting someone to try it, it really just flows from there.

One of my favorite hooping games is Circle of Life. I’ve seen it bring people together who usually would not interact with one another. The gospel hoop is a great way to share the JOY I’ve found in relationship with Jesus Christ.  “The JOY of the Lord is my strength.” -Nehemiah 8:10

 
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LAUREN BALLARD | BOARD MEMBER

I was already happy, just had to add the HOOLA! Through a series of divine events, I met my sweet friend Carissa back in 2009. After a couple of years learning from her as an intern at our previous business-suit job/internship, I fell in love with H4H and joined the mission.

In September 2011, Carissa and I took the very first 5-color gospel hoops to Brazil with a traveling street ministry (Projeto Vida) which shares God's love and encourages youth to pursue sobriety and purity through performance. This meant I had to learn to hoop dance. FAST. After a two-day crash course which might-or-might-not have involved accidentally throwing my hoop off the side of a mountain, and definitely a whole lot of help from Carissa, I was hooked. Out of this trip the “Hoola for Life” presentation was born with its first performance in Brazilian Portuguese. I’ve been hooping ever since! My next Hoola goal? Conquer fire hooping.

I’m so excited to see what God is doing with H4H and look forward to traveling more, hooping more, and LAUGHING more with this ministry I’m so blessed to be a part of!

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18


Other board members: 

Richard Finney, Mosaic Compliance
Valerie Bogle, Valerie Bogle Photography
Gina Concepcion, Board Member and former missionary in Haiti
Keri LaBrant, Spiritual Advocate and Missionary


 

Spreading Joy
At Hoola for Happiness (H4H), we are thankful to be fueled by incredible, beautiful JOY! While “happiness” and “joy” can sometimes seem synonymous, we believe that joy is something special and unique. Happiness can come and go depending on the moment, but joy is a lasting condition of the heart. It is available to us at all times, regardless of our circumstances, because it comes from something that is unconditional- the deep love of the God who created us. We believe this love is shown through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; and having a personal relationship with Christ is where we find joy. We want to share this gift with the entire world, letting everyone we meet know what we have learned: that Jesus “has come that [we] may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Simplicity
One of our favorite Bible verses is 1 Corinthians 1:27- “But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.” In our lives and in our ministry, we recognize that we don’t need much! God uses simple things (like hula hoops) and simple people (like us!) to accomplish amazing things. We find joy in sticking to the basics for our ministry and lives in general.

Faith
Spreading JOY to the entire world through the use of hula hoops can seem impossible, which means it is essential that we look for help from God, with whom nothing is impossible (Mark 10:27)! We seek to live this life of faith by relying on and trusting in God for everything we need, both in our ministry’s VISION and PROVISION.

Silliness
As our Joy Spreaders travel the world, there are times we will not be able to speak the same language as our new friends in other countries. What we can do, though, is share with them the international language of silliness! Few things transcend language barriers like laughter, play, fun and love. It is a delight to bond with others as we all “become like children” (Matthew 18:3) together and live in the freedom and giddiness that joy brings. Unleash your silliness with us!

Inclusivity
We can’t take hoops all over the world all by ourselves, and we don’t want to! We think this life is so much richer and fuller when we can all do it together. This value manifests itself in our ministry through the presence of community, mentorship and giving power away. We are so thankful for our incredible hooping community, and we are always excited to see this family grow. We love getting to involve our friends in any of our hooping activities, whether that means making hoops with us, going on local outreach projects with our team, or just hooping and having fun together. Regardless of age, race, religion or hooping experience, you are welcome here!

Serving Others
While we certainly do a lot of hooping at H4H, there are times when we are called to serve in other ways, too. Whatever the case may be, we seek to build God’s Kingdom by doing our part and serving where we can, hoop-related or not!

Flexibility
Since we hoop dance for a living, it’s definitely a plus when our bodies are flexible! More than that, though, it’s important for us to be flexible in our everyday lives as well. As our missionaries travel throughout different states, countries, cultures and time zones, incredible opportunities can come out of nowhere, and existing plans can change at a moment’s notice. This is all a part of the fun as we dance through the journey!

Creativity/ Dreams
We believe that God is the ultimate Creator, and His endless creativity inspires us to dream big and try new things ourselves! We love to encourage others to get creative, realize their dreams and then go after that vision- no matter how crazy the dream may seem!

Freedom
Freedom is something that is very special to us. As people who have been set free by God’s grace (Galatians 5:1), we see the way that this freedom has changed our lives and filled us with the joy we long to tell the world about. We also have a heart for freedom-related projects; specifically working with survivors who have been rescued from human trafficking or abusive situations.

Story Telling
While our hoops are the childhood toy that many of us know and love, there is something that sets them apart from all the rest. They are hoops with a twist! They are made with five special colors that tell the story of God’s love for the world through Jesus Christ. We love using our hoops to share this story, tell our personal testimonies, and help others express their own stories of hope. We believe that everyone has a story worth sharing, and we are thankful to have a tool that helps make this possible.