The OMA Center for Mind, Body, Spirit is committed to providing accessible, comprehensive health and wellness resources from a holistic standpoint, to those who are seeking alternatives to conventional medical and therapeutic treatments.
OMA Lecture Series is a biweekly event which has been hosted at the East End Cooperative Ministry in East Liberty, Pittsburgh. Each lecture highlights different holistic practitioners and experts from the Pittsburgh area and beyond, and invites them to share their knowledge and skills with attendees. Topics are varied, but all relate to mind-body-spirit wellness and each provide an opportunity for attendees to begin or continue their journey with personal wellness. Lectures are free to the public and we only ask for a donation from the heart if one is able to contribute. (Held virtually through zoom until further notice)
Workshops in Mind, Body & Spirit are held by practitioners locally, nationally and internationally. The first International workshop was Sept 7-9,2018 Dream Course from University of Damanhur, Italy. October/November 2020 a four-part mastermind group, Cultivating Change from Within, a Transformational Journey Toward Anti-racism was conducted using zoom.
Food for the Soul Series, brings all who participate into deep community, as a group with a sense of interdependence and commitment to one another’s growth. Food for the Soul, is designed to give the participants an opportunity to share in a simple meal of soup and bread as well as discussions regarding introspection/ideas on various subjects of body, mind, and spirit. Small groups of 8-10 individuals convene around a table and are facilitated by OMA members. These will be scheduled again for mid-2021.
Art in the Garden, is a year-round youth program designed to intentionally address the impacts of early childhood adversity and trauma on health and learning. It’s centered around investing in the resiliency and social and emotional development of Pittsburgh’s youth. Art in the Garden supports youth in holding themselves and others in compassion and helping them to grow in connectedness to themselves, each other, and the earth.
Art in the Garden includes a six-week summer program hosted at Borland Garden and is focused on meeting the needs of underserved youth in East Liberty and Larimer areas of Pittsburgh, the majority of whom are youth of color. Guided by a thoughtfully and professionally developed curriculum that focuses on secular mindfulness and emotional well-being. In collaboration with community partners, youth engage a variety of activities—from West African drumming and dance, to learning about food justice and building healthy soil, to creating ceramic sculptures—all of our programming invests in the resiliency and social and emotional well-being of Pittsburgh’s youth with an approach that addresses the effects of adversity and stress. Through daily art and environmental activities, youth develop their ability to identify and process emotions and to channel their emotions into creative activities and self-affirming forms of expression.
The curriculum and programming of AITG also responds to the demands set by youth themselves in the Youth Climate Strike platform which calls for mandatory climate education. As youth build awareness and literacy around ecological choices–i.e. through sharing, writing, or making art about their experiences and visions, growing food, sequestering carbon, composting, reducing consumption, and being in and with nature–ecological literacy develops as does and their abilities to care for themselves and others as well as the water, land, and air.
In collaboration with Earthen Vessel, all youths attending the summer camp receive a free breakfast and lunch daily. In collaboration with Youth Enrichment Services (YES), Art in the Garden also trains teens to be counselors and use a trauma-informed approach with young campers (i.e. remaining calm, attuned, and predictable); provides opportunities for students to use their voices in the arts and ecology; provides a space for students to engage issues around land access, food apartheid, regenerative gardening and farming practices, composting, and paths to individual and collective healing. (This program was due to start in 2020, but it is on hold due to considerations around Covid-19)
Following the summer camp, activities occur throughout the year for youth who attended AITG as well as youths who want to join the program. It is believed that by having activities throughout the year, the youth can build stronger family and community relationships, and build trust and confidence with the youths who attended AITG. Year-round programming has included: community mural making, family days in the Garden, a Fall event with pumpkin carving, storytelling, and on-line yoga and meditation.
In 2020, Art in the Garden programming was structured for most of the programming held on- line and limited events in the garden following CDC guidelines. All attempts will be made for the summer camp in 2021 depending on the pandemic and using CDC recommendations.
Surviving to Thriving is our vision is for Pittsburgh to become one of many models for best practices in social and emotional learning and in trauma-informed care and resilience. In order to support this vision, “Surviving to Thriving” teacher training for Art in the Garden educators, community partners, staff, parents and others working with youth were held prior to camp. This program supports adults in developing mindfulness practices, strengthening conflict transformation skills, developing awareness of the effects of implicit bias, building skills that foster supportive relationships with youth, and supporting youth in developing resilience and social and emotional intelligence. OMA’s goal is to expand Surviving to Thriving throughout Pittsburgh neighborhoods and create collaborative conversations regarding the impact of early childhood adversity and trauma on one’s cognitive, emotional and physical development as well as on interpersonal relationships and life choices throughout one’s life span. Through community collaborative learning sessions, we can develop greater awareness of needs that exist for healthy youth, adult, family and community development where all can thrive. Surviving to Thriving is a bridge designed to connect educators, community organizations, families and professionals across generations and the healthcare spectrum.
Trauma Conversations November 2020, “You are not Alone”, was launched. This is a virtual, monthly, program over a one-year period, that provides a forum for anyone who has experienced trauma from childhood or as an adult. Each session provides a panel of up to five who have experienced trauma, and/or a therapist, and a moderator. The panel session is designed to create a space for the telling and sharing of our stories around our diverse life trauma experiences and to explore the connections between us all. The panel’s disclosure and ‘breaking the silence ‘of their own history of abuse and the steps they have taken to heal, will facilitate each person’s own ability to share their own story and begin or continue to take the steps to ending their own silence and ending the pattern of victimization. In order to facilitate this, participants are provided a toolbox of techniques proven to help individuals cope with the sense of grief, reduce the negative effects of trauma, heal from the trauma, and move on with your life.
A Trauma Symposium for the Healing of All Generations is a three-day conference planned for the near future. This symposium is a city-wide call to action to address trauma and abuse as a public health issue. We seek to address the collective arena of trauma and its effects throughout the generations in order to break cycles of silence and harm. We aim to address, prevent, and mitigate adverse experiences, trauma, and abuse and hold space for all people to be a part of a city-wide transformation to support the wellbeing and health of all. Through collaboration with local and national individuals and organizations, we hope to show the possibilities for healing that emerge when communities come together to provide all people with access to holistic, trauma-informed care. We believe that when we heal ourselves in the present, we heal the generations to come.
Over the course of three days, this symposium will bring together many stake-holders. Firstly, individuals in need of trauma care, information, and resources will come together in the same room, hearing one another’s stories, gathering resources for healing and resiliency, and experiencing the reality that we are not alone: trauma affects everyone and seeing our shared struggle can deepen our capacity for healing.
Second, the symposium will bring those individuals into direct connection with practitioners of holistic trauma care for immediate, on-site intervention and longer-term treatment.
Third, the symposium will bring holistic practitioners into contact with traditional mental health organizations/clinicians, deepening the possibilities for referral along many pathways. Fourth, the symposium will bring policy makers and advocates into direct connection with individuals experiencing trauma–hearing their stories and listening to their insights–as well as with practitioners of holistic trauma care so that holistic practices can be better understood and more deeply incorporated into mental health public policy.
The Trauma Symposium and the Trauma Conversations in the Community are unique in that they will both highlight holistic treatment of trauma care and provide on-site opportunities to experience this carefree of charge. Thus, the symposium will be a point of intervention and will also address some of the stigma associated with mental health treatment. In a positive, celebratory, communal atmosphere, we will explore the ways mental and holistic health care is not correction for disease but an essential, necessary practice of self-care for all. Through a targeted series of community-based “Trauma Conversations,” we are building these networks of connections in advance of the symposium with the hope that participants in the community-based conversations will be interested in continuing to explore the prevention and healing of trauma within the context of the larger symposium.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit Community School, Turtle Creek requested that OMA to create a monthly curriculum/module for their students at risk in the Turtle Creek School (2019). This course guided the students (7th-12th) through seven modules that will help them learn to hold themselves and others in compassion. These practices foster the development of social and emotional skills: grounding techniques, regulating emotions, nonviolent communication, perspective taking, mindfulness and meditation, non-judgmental awareness, and gratitude. The students had the opportunity to express themselves using drawing, writing, theater and improv, physical movement, and engagement with nature. As they use these practices, they will find that instead of reacting impulsively, they will be able to step back and choose how they want to respond, even in difficult situations. Our premise is when we develop our ability to care for ourselves, our compassion for ourselves and others grows.
OMA’s ultimate goal is to create a local community center that further enables our mission: to provide affordable holistic education and treatment options for the well-being of self, family and community. There will be various affordable programs, so that we may be able to reach all individuals, families and community members in their quest for optimal health and vitality. We continue to seek donations and sponsors that relate to our mission and to our goals of establishing and maintaining a local center.
Please consider a donation to OMA.
Your monetary gift to OMA contributes toward the programs and events that we offer, emphasizing holistic education for the well-being of self, family and community.