This is the story of Vimala (pictured above) who, as a young adult in the 1970’s found herself volunteering in the depths of India in a rural orphanage. Coming from the United States, Vimala was struck by how these orphaned children were thriving despite their impoverished surroundings. And she witnessed two things whilst she was there: The babies were being massaged daily by the older children and by elders in the village, and on her way home to America she saw a woman with no material goods, living in a shack, but massaging and singing to her baby. And Vimala had the vision then, that all babies really need, are loving hands and the warmth of their parent.

She saw how touch deprived we have become in the Western world, and she developed a programme that sought to reverse this trend. Providing a space for parents to parent together, learning how to massage their babies. And so the International Association of Infant Massage was born and decades later we see how her wisdom, intuition and resolve have come to fruition and is now backed up by the latest neuro science.

Sylvie’s Story


Sylvie Hétu B.Sc. Ed. has been working with schools and a range of education-related associations for over 35 years. 

Sylvie became a qualified Infant Massage Instructor in 1983, and a qualified Instructor Trainer with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) in 1989. She has pioneered infant massage in Canada, as well as in various countries around the world, including South Africa, Hungary, Japan, Singapore, Czech Republic, Indonesia and Malaysia. She has been the international president of IAIM from 1992 to 2004 and now serves on the international board as the Chapter Development Coordinator. Following obtaining her degree in Education from Université de Montréal, Sylvie worked in a day-care centre and then as a primary school teacher, as well as teaching biology and nutrition at the Rudolf Steiner School in Montreal, where she was member of the Parent’s Committee for ten years and a member of the Board of Administrators for seven.

Sylvie has created approaches to massage for toddler groups, day-care and pre-school children. Since 1996 she has also offered Waldorf-inspired services, consultations, lectures and resources in education for parents and educators, both in Quebec and abroad. The author of the acclaimed book The Song of the Child, and co-author of the book Touch In schools, a revolutionary strategy for and replacing bullying by respect and for reducing violence.  In 2000 drawn on her wide-ranging experience to create, together with her colleague Mia Elmsäter, the "Massage in Schools Programme" (MISP), which has been now been taught in nearly 50 countries around the world. Alongside her colleague Claudio Natale, she does humanitarian work in townships in South Africa where they bring the MISP to children in need, and have the goal that all children of South Africa experience nurturing touch every day.

Mary Beattie

Mary has been with the IAIM and MISA for 8 years. She is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor Trainer and Massage in Schools Practitioner. Her background is in young people's work, sexual health education and clinic management.

'The IAIM wraps it's arms around the parent and child relationship. I was really drawn to this aspect of supporting parents and babies on their journey without getting in the way of their unique process. The humble nature of the instructor that allows parents to find their own way with their baby really stood out to me. And so I found myself in the training with Sylvie Hétu many years ago, being inspired by the truth and power and humility of the IAIM programme, Vimala and of course Sylvie. I feel honoured to have be trained by the IAIM and feel a deep connection with it’s core intentions.

I love the work of trainer and the work of an infant massage instructor. We have a lot of fun and I look forward to welcoming you onto my training.

For me this work brings hope and possibility. It is very special. Simple and Serious and Joyful.

 Kate Norfolk

For the past 13 years, Katie has worked as a freelance wellbeing practitioner and trainer in schools.

“I am fascinated and inspired by the human ability to heal, grow and flourish. Working mindfully and gently with young people and those adults who support young people is incredibly important to me. So I combine a therapeutic background and experience with a deep desire to bring the  positive and vital benefits of simple, well intentioned touch to young people and their families. This is possible in schools and classrooms- where learning processes can become clearly supported and extended. I have worked with 20+ schools in the Merseyside area and taught the programme to 3000+ children since 2008.”

In the last couple of years Katie has worked closely with Everton Nursery School and Family Centre – supporting their development of the mini-misp for 2-4 year olds, linking with local primary schools and delivering workshops for local authorities around early years education and massage.

A director of MISA (EWNI-) since 2010, and more recently appointed Chair, Katie is committed to  building on the solid foundations of the programme in the UK and supporting the vision of embedding the programme in to all children’s daily lives.




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