To improve the lives, health, and wellbeing of young people living with chronic illness and their families by providing transformative integrative medicine education and experiences, group support in a community of similar peers, and empowerment with self-care skills.
To transform the experience of pediatric chronic illness for the patient and the family into an opportunity for health and quality-of-life enhancement, resilience-building, and positive personal growth.
We dream of a world in which illness and adversity connect peopleâ€”rather than isolate them; where difficulties make people stronger, more resilient, and whole â€”rather than breaking them; and where meaning, purpose, insight can be found in coming together around lifeâ€™s most challenging experiences.
Generally, our programs offer a nurturing community environment and experiential healing techniques paired with a small-group support program, based on The Center for Mind Body Medicineâ€™s model. Mind-body medicine focuses on the bi-drectional interactions between mind and body and the ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly affect health. The CMBMâ€™s groups have been utilized in a number of settings, including groups for individuals with chronic and life-threatening illness, victims of war-related trauma, and with children in school systems. Their model has been found to significantly reduce depression, hopelessness, and PTSD symptoms in traumatized children.
We provide a few different types of programs for young people living with chronic illness and their families:
- Residential, 5-day/4-night retreats immersed in a natural setting. Currently, these retreats are taking place at the Commonweal Retreat Center in Bolinas, CA.
- A 7 to 10-session â€œurban-retreatâ€ program that meets after school. This program is currently held at UCSFâ€™s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine on the UCSF Mount Zion campus. Kids/teens and parents meet in separate groups. Check our calendar for upcoming programs.
- Online mind-body/resilience and group support programs.
What patients and their families can expect to learn and practice in the Communitas program:
- Mindfulness practices
- Stress management
- Guided Imagery
- Positive reframing
- Group support
- Healthy nutritional principles
- Using art and writing to deal with emotions
Additional components included in retreats:
- Massage and healing touch
- Movement practices (yoga, qi gong)
- Acupressure or acupuncture
- Music and sound therapy
- Cooking classes
- Nature walks
- Creative workshops including writing, photography, or film
the communitas name
â€œCommunitasâ€ is an anthropological concept that refers to the bonding and spirit of community that develop when people are connected by a common liminal experiences, such as chronic illness. In these situations, a sense of shared purpose and community develops and new insights and priorities can be inspired with others who are sharing a similar experience. It gets to the core of what can blossom when the usual social structures are stripped away through a shared traumatic experience.
A Heartfelt Testimonial
â€œThis program is so IMPORTANT. It totally makes you reconsider your problems and struggles, and connects you to an amazing community.â€œ
From a Patient’s Mother
Mind-body skills enhance an individualâ€™s sense of control and have been demonstrated to lower sympathetic nervous system arousal, decrease anxiety, and improve mood.