We were honored to present our 4th annual daylong training on June 30th and July 2nd with Richmond-based nonprofit, Urban Tilth. Urban Tilth teaches urban youth how to plant gardens, cook meals, and assist with other agricultural and environmental work during paid year-long and summer apprenticeships.
The MBA Project helped kick-off the beginning of Urban Tilth’s summer program by building a sense of interdependence and cohesion among the 50 youth participants and staff attendees. Over the course of the trainings, the MBA Project helped the group develop more effective communication tools to use in times of conflict. The training offered an opportunity for participants to learn about mindfulness: its uses and benefits, as well as how to recognize and respond to symptoms of trauma.
The trainees’ mindfulness knowledge and experience varied widely, and the activities and group exercises were designed to ensure that everyone learned something new. The MBA Project facilitators included Clinical Services Director Jennie Powe-Runde and instructors Micah Anderson and Syra Smith, who were excited to connect with young people engaged and interested in helping their communities.
“On both days, I was struck by the courage and willingness of team members to share with each other, to try something new, and to open to the possibility of connecting with their own experience and the experiences of their peers in deep and meaningful ways,” Jennie said.
We asked attendees to reflect on and commit to our Agreements, as shared in our MBA groups in juvenile hall and beyond. These agreements include “respect yourself and other members in the group,” and “what happens in the room stays in the room.”
After a short meditation, facilitators and attendees engaged in games and activities to strengthen connections among team members and to illustrate the challenges and rewards of sharing authentically with each other. Group members were asked to take a risk, to share openly, and to communicate with each other in ways that may be unfamiliar.
When we asked participants to fill out a survey before and after the session, we noticed there was a distinct change in the group’s knowledge of mindfulness, and in their understanding of how breathing and meditation can help them.
“Their mindfulness and self-awareness training continues to help us create strong, positive and healing relationships between our staff and youth and the community,” Urban Tilth’s Executive Director, Doria Robinson, said. “We are deeply grateful for their life-changing work.”
By Christiana Oatman, Online Communications Intern