Mission Thrive Summer Crew Leaders 2016

close up of gloved hands holding seedlings in small black tray

This is part of a series about Mission Thrive Summer, a program of the Institute for Integrative Health and Civic Works’ Real Food Farm that empowers youth with skills and knowledge for a healthy life.

Mission Thrive Summer crew leaders have been farming and training for the past two weeks, and plan to spend the next five weeks working alongside the program’s youth participants by leading, teaching, and mentoring them. This year’s team includes a former student participant and a few new faces. Get to know our 2016 crew, Shabazz, Vanessa, Kelsey, Raven, and Annina:


  • Education:  City Neighbor High School
  • Hometown:  Baltimore
  • Why Mission Thrive:  I like being outdoors instead of being in the house.
  • Career Goals:  Wants to do computer programming or become an architect.
  • Enjoys about Mission Thrive: The field trips and the cooking experience.


  • Education:  BA, Cultural Studies and Political Science, Brandeis University
  • Hometown:  Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts
  • Why Mission Thrive:  Excited to be helping and working with a more consistent group of students and a group of people I am close to in age that I can relate to.
  • Career Goals:  Continue farming, create social change, and make art
  • Enjoys about Mission Thrive: I like working on the farm and being outdoors.


  • Education:  BA, Sociology, University of Delaware
  • Hometown:  Wilmington, DE
  • Why Mission Thrive: MTS helps people to become very self aware and kind of tries to combat all of the issues that come up when you are trying to do good things for people. Taking from what they’ve learned in the past and making it the best possible thing it can be I think that’s really cool.
  • Career Goals:  Wants to work public health
  • Enjoys about Mission Thrive: I like being outside.


  • Education:  Baltimore School for the Arts
  • Hometown:  Baltimore, MD
  • Why Mission Thrive:  It seemed cool. I thought it would be a great opportunity, and I missed this place.
  • Career Goals:  To become a singer.
  • Enjoys about Mission Thrive: Meeting new people.


  • Education:   BS, Health Science and Community Health, Towson University
  • Hometown:  Baltimore, MD
  • Why Mission Thrive:  I like the possibilities of impacting someone else’s life.
  • Career Goals:  I would prefer to farm or work outside, I couldn’t image not spending the majority of time outside. Farming and gardening is what I would do.
  • Enjoys about Mission Thrive: Working closely with them (youth) to share my thoughts and ideas and expose them to whatever it is I know about healthy eating, farming, physical activity, and being a healthier person.


  • Education:  BA, Anthropology and English, Towson University
  • Hometown:  Rockfish, North Carolina
  • Why Mission Thrive:  I wanted to be connected to the youth in Baltimore.
  • Career Goals:  To join the Peace Corps and do ecological restoration and farming overseas.
  • Enjoys about Mission Thrive: I love the whole process of watching the earth grow.

Healing is facilitated through safety, persistence, and trust.

  • Persistence: “People did not simply progress through this sequence and experience healing. The healing journey was a recursive, back and forth process. They found helpers, used the skills/resources that those helpers provided, found other helpers that provided more resources and used those skills and resources. As this process continued, people experienced a gradual amelioration of their suffering. Although many despaired at times, all demonstrated the quality of persistence—they refused to give up.”
  • Safety & Trust: “To connect to helpers, it was essential for people to feel safe in those relationships and able to trust that the person would be a helper and not a barrier to healing. Persons whose wounds included a violation of trust were especially careful about testing the safety of new relationships.”

Resources support us as we heal. They include reframing, responsibility, and positivity. “Making connections enabled participants to acquire and refine resources and skills that were essential in their healing journey. People also brought their own personal strengths to the journey.”

  • Reframing: “A particularly important skill was the ability to reframe—that is to look at suffering through a different lens.” This does NOT mean minimizing trauma or pain, but rather it often means the opposite: understanding what happened was wrong, unfair, or uncontrollable and that we are not to blame for it.
  • Responsibility: While we don’t have control over what happened to us, we are the only ones who can help ourselves heal. “A third essential resource that people acquired or refined was the ability to take an appropriate amount of responsibility for their healing journeys. They participated actively in the process of healing. Once again, some participants already had developed this skill, and some acquired or refined it from their helpers.”
  • Positivity: “Another resource that people acquired or refined during their healing journey was choose to be positive—that is to have some optimism about their situation.” People have varying predispositions to positivity. In the study, positivity was important in helping people heal. This doesn’t mean a toxic positivity, but rather simply finding some good in life and feeling hopeful about our situations.

“Connection to others was an essential part of all the healing journeys.” Humans are social creatures, and even the most introverted of us need close relationships. Friends and family add meaning and value to life and help support us, in good times and bad. 

When we experience relational trauma, relationships can feel scary, but reestablishing safety and trust in relationships is where the healing happens. (To be clear, we do not mean reestablishing safety and trust with abusers, but rather finding other healing relationships.) 

“When safety and trust had been established, people were able to connect with helpers. The nature of the behaviours of helpers that fostered healing ranged from small acts of kindness to unconditional love.”

  • “Moving from being wounded, through suffering to healing, is possible. It is facilitated by developing safe, trusting relationships and by positive reframing that moves through the weight of responsibility to the ability to respond.”
  • “Relationships with health professionals were among these but were not necessarily any more important to the healing journey than other kinds of helpers, which included family members, friends, spirituality and their God, pets, support groups, administrators, case workers and supervisors.”

Healing probably means different things to different people, but one definition that emerged from the study is: “The re-establishment of a sense of integrity and wholeness.” 

Healing was an emergent property that resulted from each individuals’ complex healing journey, a result of bridged connections between resources and relationships. “…they gradually found relief from suffering and began to exhibit emergent characteristics: a sense of hope, self-acceptance, and a desire to help others—the immediate precursors to healing.”

 In varying degrees, “they were able to transcend their suffering and in some sense to flourish.” 

  • Helping Others: We find meaning in helping others. “Understanding that suffering gives the strength and experience to help others in similar situations.”
  • Hope: We begin to have hope that we will not always feel this bad. A Crohn’s patient said, “I think gradually I realized that I was going to feel better. I did have days when I actually didn’t vomit, when I did feel better. And I think gradually I came to believe that maybe I could have a normal life again.”
  • Self-Acceptance: We see our inherent value and understand that we are not to blame for our suffering. A participant living with HIV said, “I’m really proud of myself. I think that now I still want to live. I don’t want to die, and I really love myself a lot. I have a lot of comfort in myself.”

Suffering is the ongoing pain from wounding. 

There is some debate about whether people always experience suffering on the path to healing.

Wounding happens when we experience physical or emotional harm. It can stem from chronic illness or by physical or psychological trauma for which we do not have the tools to cope, or a combination of those factors. 

“The degree and quality of suffering experienced by each individual is framed by contextual factors that include personal characteristics, timing of their initial or ongoing wounding in the developmental life cycle and prior and current relationships.”

Characteristics: How predisposed someone may be to wounding/how many tools and resources someone may have to deal with trauma/illness.

Lifestages: Developmental timing plays an important role in the impact of trauma — young children often do not have the same resources as older adults.

Relationships: Relationships can provide solace and support for those suffering, while lack of healthy relationships can prolong suffering.