The Resilience of iBme Youth
“I learned I can ground myself even when I’m uprooted.”- Jack, 17 Years Old
iBme’s vision is to support future generations of heart-centered, diverse leaders who are prepared to respond to the challenges of their time with focus, resiliency, and compassion for themselves, their communities, and the global environment. In 2021, there was one piece of this vision that really stood out – RESILIENCE. Reflecting on the last year, we are amazed by the community-wide commitment to and embodiment of resilience.
To all iBme teens and young adults, we honor and celebrate your resilience. Your ability to continue to show up, to share what you need, to witness and tend to your struggles, and to be there for peers has been a tremendous teaching.
To all iBme adults (teachers, mentors, committee members, and donors), thank you for creating the container – the structure and the space – for resilience to be nurtured. No matter the format, online/in-person, retreat/class, or large/small group, you had the heart and wisdom to meet the moment.
It’s rare to have an opportunity to see the fruits of our vision so up close and in real time. The last two years have been such a traumatic roller coaster, especially for youth. And yet, here we are. Open hearts and minds, standing (and sitting), together.
There are many questions about what the future holds for our world. To find hope in that mystery, look no further than the resilience of iBme youth who will be leading the way!
In Deep Gratitude,
iBme’s Collaborative Leadership Team
“I learned that many of my anxieties and insecurities aren’t fixed, immovable parts of me, and that with practice and patience, I can work through them and tap into joy.”
– 17 Year Old Male-Identified, Summer Retreat Participant
The Return to Residential Retreats
Oh, how we missed hearing that bell!
The Massachusetts Teen Summer Retreat was our first in-person residential retreat since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forty-six teens attended the retreat which was filled to capacity with a large waiting list several months in advance.
There was clear consensus among the teens that attending this retreat was extremely valuable in helping with their ongoing navigation and processing of the pandemic. Many of the attendees expressed how difficult the past year had been for them and how healing it felt to be part of a community again, finally having the support and time they needed to focus on their mental and emotional health.
Images and videos of the retreat give us a taste of just how powerful it was. For more inspiration, check out the full story on our blog.
“I learned how important it is to love myself. I learned that coming back and showing up is part of the process, not a screw up.”
– 19 Year Old Female-Identified, Summer Retreat Participant
We are embodying our place as a national leader in immersive mindfulness education and strengthening the movement by deepening our awareness of and skills related to accessibility, equity, and justice.
Every human being should have the right to experience empathy and compassion, and to live in a world that is safe and just. Holding retreats for specific identity groups, such as BIPOC and LGBTQIA+, is a powerful way to nurture our multi-identity beloved community and increase accessibility to groups that have been historically underserved. In 2021, we held our first annual LGBTQ+ Retreat (31 teens) and our third annual Teens of Color Retreat (19 teens). We also offered a schedule of recurring monthly and weekly drop-ins for four different affinity groups.
Teacher Training Program
Our year-long, internationally-certified Teacher Training Program provides youth-serving adults with the tools to share in-depth mindfulness education. In 2021, we welcomed a new cohort of 44 educators, counselors, therapists, and nonprofit leaders committed to improving the lives of adolescents.
Since 2019, iBme has been partnering with Koru Mindfulness, a national leader in mindfulness for college students, to provide college break in-person and online retreats. Two retreats were hosted with Koru in 2021. The partnership has welcome 240 college students on retreat since its inception.
Equity and Interdependence (EI) Learning and Action
We thrive at the intersection of caring for young people, stewarding of Earth, committing to non-harm, and investigating and disrupting systems of oppression. In our institutional policies, organizational practices, and programming, we create conditions that cultivate a greater sense of belonging in our radically diverse community. – EI Strategic Goal
In 2021, we built organizational capacity and took several steps with our Equity and Interdependence goals. Major accomplishments included hosting 12 community conversations and practices, with an average of 30 participants per session, and expanding the equity training program received by our teachers, mentors, and retreat coordinators.
Our extensive community of steadfast, expert faculty and mentors are responsively meeting the needs of youth during the pandemic, whether that be online or safely and compassionately transitioning back to in-person programs.
100% of teens agreed or strongly agreed that they would recommend iBme retreats to a friend
98% of teens agreed or strongly agreed that they
had an overall positive experience on the retreat
– 2021 Northeast Teen Retreat
We are collectively creating a governance system and leadership culture that is accountable, transparent, and diverse.
Two years into the organization-wide transformation, iBme’s Collaborative Leadership continues to evolve to respond to the needs of individuals and groups within the system. As expected, the implementation has had its share of successes as well as challenges, especially with the global pandemic being an unforeseeable and impactful variable.
In 2021, much progress was made in developing a comprehensive handbook of living processes, policies, and agreements. Additionally, two new committees were launched – Youth Advisory and Equity and Interdependence. Please explore the section below for committee descriptions and to meet the founding members!
The YAC is composed of youth leadership within iBme, and it is responsible for advising Staff and all Committees and offering input and feedback on program design, implementation, and evaluation; marketing and communications; and deepening youth engagement strategies. The YAC also provides a venue for centering the youth experience at iBme, while also building the skills of the young people themselves.
I attended an iBme retreat in 2018, and experienced such welcoming like I never had before in any place. Since then I have considered the iBme community to be my spiritual family, and I’ll never miss a chance to give back to this community that has done so much for me. I am especially interested in relational mindfulness and the ways it can be employed to foster healthier learning environments, systems of leadership and societal infrastructure.
Hey, my name is Gia DePalma, I go by she/her/hers pronouns and I’m from San Anselmo, California, Coastal Miwok land. I am outgoing, fun-loving, athletic, an artist, and have a deep love for the meditation community. I was exposed to meditation from an early age but only started really meditating when I was 13. I am now 16 and have done many classes, sat many online retreats, and did the first Rainbow daylong with iBme and am super excited to be a member of the YAC.
Gracie Yaconelli is a senior in high school living in the foothills of the Cascade and Siskiyou mountain ranges in Ashland, Oregon. She is a musician, songwriter and avid trail runner. In her free time Gracie enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and deep conversations over tea. She first encountered mindfulness at three years old and has been hooked ever since.
Jess is a junior at Bard College in Red Hook, New York. She is double majoring in Psychology and Written Arts and is a Peer Counselor (RA). Jess has been on 7 iBme retreats– 4 in person and 3 online– and cares deeply for the organization and community. iBme has brought her so much faith in humanity and indispensable life lessons. Jess is particularly interested in how meditation can affect creativity and change perspectives, as well as influence necessary conversations and communication.
My name is Liam, I am a college student pursuing a major in Anthropology and a minor in religious studies. I have practiced meditation for four years and iBme has been a part of my life since early high school. During my time with this organization, iBme has shown me first hand what positive effects mindfulness practice can have on people, especially young adults. My experience as a summer camp counselor and my involvement with my college’s mindfulness group has assisted me in my pursuit of being a positive role-model for young adults just as the iBme mentors have been to me.
My name is Mina (she/they), and I’m a queer, biracial woman. I’m originally from a small town outside of Boston, but I’m spending this semester studying in Dublin, Ireland. I love plants, dogs, chamber music, and making bad art. I can’t wait to meet you all!
Sundara Jones-Quartey is an undergraduate student at Howard University majoring in Human Development. Born and raised in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area, she plans to obtain her Master’s in Social Work and become a therapist for children and adolescents in D.C. Being the oldest of four, Sundara is always supported and inspired by her family. Having attended four iBme teen retreats, she is grateful and fortunate to be a part of such a special community.
Taeya first began meditating at 13, her freshman year in high school. After having such an introspective experience, she continued on to take extracurricular workshops on Loving-kindness and Guiding practices. She ventured out to one of iBme’s summer programs and really elevated her practice to a new height. From these experiences blossomed a love for meditation and mindfulness that she incorporates in her daily life. She now helps lead an introductory mindfulness course at her school as well as being a member of the iBme Board.
Hey, my name is Xavier and I am a psychology and pre med student at UC Berkeley. I have been meditating for almost 4 years now and it has changed my life in so many ways! I have found a lot of fulfillment through my job as a crisis counselor and providing support surrounding mental health. Other than that I love ultimate frisbee, board games, hanging out, and, last but definitely not least, climbing.
Hi I’m Zadie, pronounced Zay-Dee, pronouns are she/her/hers. I am from Berkeley California, but am not currently finishing up my last year of undergrad at UC San Diego in California. I founded the mindfulness club at my school last year, and have been involved in mindfulness and meditation since I was a young teen! I am excited to continue this journey with you all, see you soon!
The EIC holds responsibility for offering input and feedback on EI priorities for the organization, creation of Equity curriculum for retreat staff and Committee members, and offers support in training new and existing members of the community in EI.
Abigail is a junior at Fordham University double majoring in Humanitarian Studies and Theatre Performance (yes, it’s a very long title). As an active part of the theatre community, they’ve spent much of their college career acting, assisting designers, and agonizing over the next set to build in the scene shop. They’ve also worked to bring their activism into theatre: as a co-chair of the Fordham Theatre BIPOC Alliance, Abigail has worked for the past year to hold Fordham Theatre accountable to its stated anti-racist values as well as create a community for other BIPOC students. Outside of theatre, they’ve taken on many leadership positions at Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning, and they love tutoring math so they can finally put those high school calculus classes to use. Abigail is also looking forward to attending their fifth and final iBme retreat in December 2021 — without iBme, they could never be where they are today. Their dreams for the future involve off-Broadway acting, working at an NGO for transitional justice, or moving to Sorrento, Italy and eating gelato by the ocean.
Adrienne Scott is currently the curator at the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology at California State University, Chico. She holds a BA in anthropology from Indiana University, Bloomington and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction from CSU, Chico. Originally from St. Louis, MO, Adrienne left the Midwest to work on the East Coast in her early museum career at the Smithsonian Institution and the Miami Museum of Science, coordinating public programs and exhibitions. In 2016 The Smith Museum received the California State Superintendent’s Award for Excellence in Museum Education for the Museum-in-the-Classroom Project created by her. The project opens teachers and their classrooms to the idea that history is always in motion and that these shifts depend upon who is telling the story. Most recently, she was chosen to be part of two national curricula development projects: NEH educator team at Crow Canyon Archaeology Center and a teacher institute on indigenous people’s history in the U.S. at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ. Adding the omitted voices of history to exhibitions, curricula and programming is central to her work. She is awaiting publication (spring 2022) of a chapter in Cultural Heritage and the Campus Community: Academic Libraries and Museums in Collaboration, that explores how to facilitate new conversations when teaching about the Japanese Americans imprisoned in US during WWII.She has also been part of the Still Point Meditation Center founded by Bill and Nancy Martin in Chico, CA. She has led meditations, held space, as well as served on the Still Point’s board. Adrienne tries to find time each day to recharge in nature, either with a dawn or dusk walking meditation. Being present and awake to what life brings forward is essential to being a better educator and human. She is energized by the practice of interconnecting mindfulness, education, and antiracist work. These interwoven threads seem like the natural way forward.
Anthony strives to bring people together. After earning a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, Anthony led mindfulness programs at an outpatient clinic for youth with mental health challenges. He is a graduate of Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield’s two-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Program. In March of 2020, he launched Evolving Minds with a purpose: to connect. He’s raised over $20,000, developed impactful mental health programming for students, educators, and businesses, and has graduated over 400 alumni. He currently leads the development of mindfulness content for health care workers with Vitalize, a digital wellness platform, and sits on the Mental Health America Young Adult Leader Council.
Equity and Interdependence Committee MemberPhoto: Path at Insight Meditation Center
Ohilda Holguin is an education consultant and trainer, sales executive, author, keynote speaker, and wellness coach. Ohilda worked in the field of domestic violence for over 15 years, managed after-school programs, and taught middle school reading before entering the world of educational publishing and technology for the last twelve years. Currently, she is a Breathe for Change trainee where she is studying to be certified in yoga and social emotional learning and is in a mindfulness training program at Mindful Schools. She develops powerful leadership training, consultation, and coaching programs. Her areas of specialties include K12 education technology, social emotional learning, business development, innovation, leadership, and women’s empowerment.
Raquel holds a BA in Spanish with a concentration in Education from Worcester State University and a Master’s in Urban Planning from Boston University. Her work has focused on Youth Development from an equity lens. In 2011, she received the Lewis Hines Award for professionals who work to enrich the future of America’s youth. Raquel joined the City of Worcester in the office of Community Health in 2014 where she trained over 100 staff on health equity and community organizing. In June of 2016, she started the Division of Youth Opportunities which is housed in the City of Worcester’s Department of Health and Human Services. The Division serves over 3,000 youth in the city of Worcester each year. Along with her experience in Youth Development and Urban Planning, Raquel has been a consultant on Anti-Racist Organizational Practices for over 10 years with a concentration in Leadership Development. In 2019, Raquel received the Healthy Equity Champion award for her work developing Child Friendly Cities. It’s Raquel’s hope that her experience coupled with her passion she can create youth-centered spaces that cultivate community leaders.
Tonya has spent the past 17 years working in the public sector driven by a strong commitment to social justice and equity, collective healing and building stronger, compassionate communities. Before joining iBme, Tonya was the Los Angeles Director at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a national organization that provides transitional work and permanent job services to the formerly incarcerated. At CEO, she was responsible for overseeing and supporting a diverse staff of 20, along with program development and management, community partnerships, fiscal oversight and working collaboratively with national fund and business development teams. Tonya is a certified mindfulness facilitator (UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior). She is a mentor for UCLA’s Intensive Practice Program, teaching assistant for UCLA’s Mindfulness and Theory course, guest teacher at InsightLA’s POC sangha, and has lectured and facilitated at numerous educational institutions and organizations. Tonya holds a BA from Howard University, MFA from Columbia University, and serves on the UC Irvine Advisory Board for the Customer Experience Certificate Program.
We are nurturing a sustainable financial model that prioritizes accessibility, diversity, and quality for our programs.
“Leaving is the hardest part. I wanted to stay here forever! The people, the energy, the practice, the lack of technology. It’s a sacred space.”
– 15 Year Old Nonbinary, Teen Retreat Participant
We are committed to making our transformative programs and the skills of mindfulness and compassion available to all teens, independent of financial means and in the most culturally relevant way possible.
The philanthropic supporters of iBme play a critical role in helping us nurture this growing community and allowing us to maintain our mission-based commitment to accessibility, regardless of income. We are so grateful for your shared passion for our mission. By supporting young people to deepen awareness, compassion, and ethics and empowering their voices, we are investing in our collective future, one with greater liberation, justice, and well-being for us all.
Be part of the next chapter.
We are preparing for a full return to our summer retreat schedule with six teen retreats planned in the Northeast, Michigan, Washington, and California. Help us make this the best summer yet!