By Kristin Miller and Sophie Trist
We are expanding our therapy/wellness programs to offer daily sessions with an emphasis on the importance of health & wellness as a therapeutic means to combat anxiety, stress, substance use, and disruptive behavior related to our kids’ histories of abuse. Covenant House recognizes that in order for our residents to succeed in their jobs, school, independent housing, and personal lives we must offer them opportunities to develop skills and tools to lead a healthy lifestyle. We enact a holistic health model focused on physical, social, spiritual, emotional, and occupational well-being. With the help of several incredible partners we have had the ability to expand our current programming to deepen our focus on these six dimensions of wellness.
Upbeat Music Program
Each weekday we give our residents the choice to engage in one or more wellness programs. One of our new and exciting programs is a product of our partnership with UpBeat Academy Foundation. This local, non-profit organization has been working with us weekly since October and specializes in providing youth with the opportunity to create and perform their own electronic dance or hip-hop music.
These classes allow our residents to get real-world experience with music production, while being educated by local DJs and artists, and engaging with new equipment to create their own beats. Music production provides creative outlets for residents to express themselves and establishes healthy relationships with residents, staff, and mentors. Music has been known to be a therapeutic technique and allows our residents to tap into their intellectual, social, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
Youth Camping Trip
To add, we have had the opportunity to take our residents on some eye-opening social outings. Last quarter, we took our trafficking survivors on a three-day camping trip. Our staff go above and beyond to give these wonderful young people experiences that their traumatic childhoods have denied them, helping them work out trust issues and develop healthy relationships with adults who have their best interests at heart. This was a weekend of total relaxation and fun; our youth got the opportunity to get away from the stress of everyday life in the city, sleep late, and just hang out with friends in a completely safe, carefree environment, all things many of us take for granted.
For many of them, it was their first-ever vacation, and they especially loved telling stories and making s’mores by the campfire. For young people accustomed to strict schedules and tight control, getting to relax and make their own schedules was a healing experience. This camping trip was an excellent opportunity for our staff and residents to bond and build trust, which is necessary for the mental and emotional healing of these young people.
On June first, our residents had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Arts and Hearts 5K, presented by Varsity Sports. In preparation for this race, every Tuesday residents and staff joined various local running groups on the Greenway for coaching. Backed by community partners such as Steel Magnolias and event chairs Julie Slick and Susan Opelka, the race was a huge success and our residents enjoyed crossing the finish line in the beautiful Audubon with their brand new gear. Physical activity such as running can have a profound impact on a person’s wellness by reducing stress, improving memory and mood, and helping with sleep. From our track club, our residents can gain a sense of personal accomplishment from finishing the race as well as mental and physical health benefits.
Other Additions to our Programming
Other wellness programs and events we have been blessed to incorporate in our schedules include: Pelican’s Games, various offsite concerts, fitness, zumba, yoga, creativity art, meditation, life skills presentations, mock interviews, spiritual awareness, parenting groups, photography, health discussions, mother and baby resources, and much more. We are grateful to offer such opportunities for our youth and could not do it without the incredible support of our community.