Live Happii Retreats Officially Launched on 10/10/2023!!

Live Happii Retreats Officially Launched on 10/10/2023!!

The bell rings on the first day of school, and all the kids come clambering into their homeroom classes, gossiping about the summer’s events — the new friends they made, the vacations their families took, the amazing new places they got to explore, and the overnight camps they sang songs at. For many years, I listened, imagining the countries they visited and smiling as they shared camp stories.

From then on, I had the urge to go away to summer camp. My lovely mother found a Black-owned camp that I attended for two summers in a row before it shut down. I knew that my cousin and I were fortunate to be able to go away to a camp like that. Many African-American kids don’t have the chance to do what we were able to do. Those days remain some of my favorite childhood memories.

As a young adult, it became a dream of mine to open up a summer camp for inner-city kids. I wanted them to have fun childhood memories, to make friends, and just be kids! Through the years, I’ve traveled to thirty different countries and lived in two outside of the U.S. Traveling has opened my mind, heart, and soul to the beauty of the world, the kindness in people, and our interconnectedness as a whole.

This vision that was once a simple overnight camp in the countryside of Illinois has expanded beyond my greatest dreams. I’ve co-founded Live Happii Retreats as a way to help inner-city high school and college-aged young adults experience the world in a safe and holistic way.

Our partnership with OYA: New Earth allows us to give youth an international experience. OYA is a holistic retreat located in the Dominican Republic, a lush, fruitful, and vibrant country. Not only will we show retreat participants the beauty of the country, but there will also be a heavy focus on mental and physical health practices.

We will guide them through various mental wellness tips such as yoga, breathwork, journaling, qi gong, and dance therapy. We will show them how to care for their bodies by providing nutritious meal options.

An important part of our initiative is helping the youth recognize their place in the world, their connection to others, and helping them to envision a greater life for themselves. With various community service activities such as painting a school, teaching children English, or a simple one-on-one basketball game with locals, they will gain the feeling of satisfaction one feels when helping others to succeed.

Many kids in the inner Chicago area have never seen Lake Michigan, which for some is less than ten miles away. They don’t see the point in an education because school hasn’t helped those around them live a better, safer, more fulfilling life. We want them to see that life, and the world, is so much bigger than what they or even their parents may have experienced in the city.

To make this a reality, I need YOUR help. Today, 10/10, is World Mental Health Day. To kick off the launch of this initiative, I am asking each person who reads this to donate just $10 (more if you’d like) to help us fund these retreats. Every little bit helps us to change lives. Donations can be made here.

If donating is not something you can do, please like and share this article with friends and family.

If you’d like to sponsor a student to attend an international retreat, contact us at livehappiiretreats@gmail.com. For more information and updates, follow us on Instagram at @livehappii_retreats or visit our website at livehappiiretreats.org.

With so much gratitude,

Tori Franklin, OLY

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