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Cooking Battle Culminates Summer Program

young people sitting a a table with green peppers, canned vegetables, onions, and lime juice

Week five of Mission Thrive Summer culminated in the much-anticipated cooking battle, a half day competition between four teams, the Wolf People, Pandas, Elephants, and Pucks, in which each team’s lunch meal was evaluated by three judges.

Cultivating Mindfulness and Praise

young woman with ripped jeans sitting looking at the ocean

Creating a safe space, breathing deeply, and focusing on positive thoughts isn’t easy. By practicing simple mindfulness techniques, students in Mission Thrive Summer learn to deal with stress and find healthy alternatives to cope with life’s challenges.

Stretching Money, Minds, and Muscles

a girl in a blue shirt counts sorts coins into cups

In addition to farming, nutrition, and healthy cooking, Mission Thrive Summer introduces students to important life skills including money management. During week three students learned that every penny counts.

Heating Up the Kitchen

young people eating snacks while sitting at blue picnic table

Mission Thrive Summer participants concluded their second week by playing Rose-Bud-Thorn, an exercise in which they named their best and worst experiences of the week.

Students Dig into Healthy Living

a group of teens sit at picnic tables while quietly looking off camera

This week, 30 Baltimore City high school students began Mission Thrive Summer, our program designed to  empower youth with tools for making healthy decisions.

Mission Thrive Summer Crew Leaders 2016

close up of gloved hands holding seedlings in small black tray

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.

Nurturing a Young Health Advocate

teenagers smile and laugh while standing on a sidewalk

Participating in Mission Thrive Summer built upon Mikal’s skills and developed his social side, enabling him to become a stronger communicator and supportive team member.

Students Lead Health Expo

a group of children participate in activities during a health expo

To conclude their Mission Thrive Summer experience, participants presented a community health expo this week at the Rita M. Church Community Center in Clifton Park.

Thinking Before Drinking

a group of young teenagers sit at a long table while having beverages

As Mission Thrive Summer participants learned last week, the biggest culprits are soft drinks, such as iced coffee, sodas, and sports drinks. These beverages have been found to be a top calorie source in teens’ diets.

Learning Life Skills for a Healthy, Successful Future

two teenagers in business attire walk arm and arm in a classroom

Life Lab is a  life skills training aimed at helping participants in Mission Thrive Summer become productive citizens in their community. Sessions cover important parts of holding a job and being an active, leading member of a healthy community.

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 debate about whether or not one actually needs to 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.