UrbanPromise launched the Wellness Center to address health concerns associated with growing up in concentrated urban poverty. A joint venture with First Presbyterian Church, Haddonfield, the Center’s mission is to reduce the impact of toxic stress on our community, thus providing the opportunity for optimal well-being of body, mind and spirit. The Wellness Center trains UrbanPromise staff to recognize signs of trauma; offers counseling to youth, families and staff; promotes healthy habits and provides unique education programs encouraging creativity and wellbeing.
The Wellness Center reduces the impact of toxic stress on our youth and our community through a trauma-informed staff approach. Staff training for 2014-15 is focused on promoting resilience in our youth – which is the ability to get through difficult times and come out the other side healthy and whole – helping kids identify and build on their strengths.
Children and teens that experience toxic stress have difficulty focusing and controlling their behavior. To address this, the practice of mindfulness is being piloted in 67% of our classrooms. In addition weekly yoga classes are offered to our youth at after school programs and schools, empowering youth to become more confident about and connected to their bodies.
Healthy lifestyles include a healthy relationship with food. A farm to school approach allows youth to grow, harvest and cook meals using the garden and Spirit Building kitchen. November 2014 saw the opening of our Community Food Co-op, bringing healthy food to an area of Camden known as a ‘food desert’.