OAKLAND, Calif. -- Bay Area nonprofit Inner City Bliss is driven by a single goal: Bringing more BLISS into the world. Founder Andre Humphrey knows firsthand how important trauma-informed, holistic wellness is especially for youth communities of color.
"I had a typical upbringing in the inner city," said Humphrey. "There was poverty, there were drugs, there was abuse, mentally, physically. And then you bring in the worldly things, the racism, the oppression."
"My mother would always tell me that everything happens for a reason," Humphrey added. "Now, when I sit in front of these kids, and they tell me their stories of what they're going through and they tell me about their traumas, I'm able to hold space for them in strength."
Through Inner City Bliss, Humphrey cultivates inner peace within the community through trauma-informed, holistic wellness practices that help with trauma recovery. Program activities include mindfulness meditation, yoga, crystal awareness, and nature-based mental health to help promote relaxation and peace of mind.
Humphrey recently visited Fremont High School in Oakland to hold space for student mediation.
"Trauma in Oakland, it just surrounds them all day," said Anthony Mack, the School Psychologist at Fremont High School. "If school can give them a place to sit, maybe they can figure out the next move and it doesn't affect them later in life."
"We're so used to yelling and danger happening around us," explained Kimberly Higareda, a Fremont High School student. "Having a calm space is not what we know."
"Doing this meditation class allowed me to be more concentrated and aware of myself, and just cope better with that stress," described Fremont High School student Miklo Santiago.
In each program's shared experience of bliss, Humphrey says that he experiences his own self-healing alongside inner city youth.
"For me personally, being able to work with these kids helps me make sense of everything that I've been through in my childhood," said Humphrey. "When I'm helping them heal, when I'm providing them tools to deal with their mind and their emotions, I'm actually healing myself."