When the Ricky Williams Foundation lost out on a $32 million investment in the spring, founder and former NFL star Ricky Williams thought his charity was finished. But along came Gary Douglas, the founder of a self-help group called Access Consciousness. He agreed to support the foundation, and together, the two would show the kids the way of Access.
Sounds great, right? Positive thinker saves a charitable group, educates the children, all that good stuff. But what if that positive thinker believes that his philosophy has taught him how to read people's minds and heal the sick with his touch? And what if his self-help group hews closer to a money-grabbing cult in which members are taught that a combination of massage and quantum physics can help them achieve anything?
Those are the questions coming up after a blog post in the Austin Chronicle revealed the partnership between Williams' foundation and Access Consciousness.
In a long, rambling interview, Williams, Douglas and Access co-founder Dr. Dain Heer explained the movement's quasi-religious yet endlessly vague beliefs, and that the foundation wants to teach kids how to open their minds through a series of Access classes.
We wanted to learn more about the group, so we called a local Access instructor, Jackie O'Neil, to ask her about the classes.
She tells Riptide that Access is "about asking questions. We don't actually teach anything. We bring up energy in your being." She adds that, for children, the goal is to get them to realize that they're capable of coming up with brilliant ideas. "We tell them that they're special. We empower them."
Even after talking to O'Neil, it's hard to get a spin on exactly what Access Consciousness is looking to do. The group--which has the pleasant yet reductive motto of "Empowering people to know what they know" - doesn't share much, if any, of its methods on its website.
The entry-level class, "Access Bars," is a hands-on-body class in which 32 different points on the head are touched to release "all the limiting thoughts, ideas, attitudes, decisions and beliefs that you have ever had, about anything." They liken this to deleting files off a computer's hard drive, which suggests that no one at Access has ever used a computer.
From there, Access members can move up to Foundation classes, then the Scientology-sounding Levels 1, 2 and 3. Not much is written about those, except that it apparently involves some positive imaging ideas straight out of The Secret. Oh, and you have to fork over several hundred dollars and many hours to learn it.
With the Austin Chronicle's post getting picked up by Deadspin and Pro Football Talk, you can expect that there will be many more questions asked of Williams, Douglas and the connection between the foundation and Access.
We weren't able to get comment from either Access Consciousness headquarters or from the Ricky Williams Foundation.
For now, though, we'd advise hooking your kids up with a different organization run by an ex-NFLer. Jason Taylor's foundation, at last check, was still doing good, non-culty work.