The Issue
Our Approach
Our Impact

Our Mission

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.

Our Vision

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 people—rather than isolate them; where difficulties make people stronger, more resilient, and whole —rather than breaking them; and where meaning, purpose, insight can be found in coming together around life’s most challenging experiences.

our model

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 Medicine’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 CMBM’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.

our programs

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 “urban-retreat” program that meets after school. This program is currently held at UCSF’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:

  • Meditation
  • Breathwork
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Biofeedback
  • Stress management
  • Guided Imagery
  • Self-Hypnosis
  • Movement
  • 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

“Communitas” 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

“This program is so IMPORTANT. It totally makes you reconsider your problems and struggles, and connects you to an amazing community.“

From a Patient’s Mother


Mind-body skills enhance an individual’s sense of control and have been demonstrated to lower sympathetic nervous system arousal, decrease anxiety, and improve mood.
The Issue
Our Approach
Our Impact