UrbanPromise is an awesome ministry serving the youth of Camden, NJ, a city which consistently ranks most violent in our country. Started 25 years ago by Bruce Main, UrbanPromise (UP) has grown from summer and after school programming throughout the city to also include K-12 education. Additionally teens throughout the city are hired year around to be StreetLeaders, which gives them the opportunity to develop leadership skills, gain employment experience and access academic and social support. Success stories abound…but so do shocking stories of the effects of chronic poverty and exposure to violence. That’s where I come in. Until now there has never been a consistent health presence at UP, despite the fact that evidence shows a strong correlation between psychosocial health and academic performance. Additionally, exposure to repeated traumatic experiences and chronic stress (both best described as toxic stress) is strongly associated with developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. It is my intention to facilitate wellness – balance of body, mind and spirit – for every member of the UP community, by raising awareness of and then addressing the devastating effects of toxic stress. This blog will be about this journey I began in September of 2012.
And who am I? I am a nurse practitioner named Rebecca Bryan with 20 years of primary care experience, 5 years of teaching graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, an Elder at First Presbyterian Church, Haddonfield and a recent empty nester. I also have 6 years of experience working with Presbyterian pastors at Credo conferences – wellness conferences which help to transform lives. My passions are my faith, teaching and working with youth. This position as director of the UrbanPromise Wellness Center is a joint venture between my church and UP. God is good.