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NOURISH to Host Festival in February

February 03, 2015 | Press Releases

To celebrate the recent opening of its new home in Spartanburg’s Chapman Cultural Center, nationally recognized mental health education and prevention non-profit, Mental Fitness, Inc., announces NOURISH FESTIVAL, SPARTANBURG: more than 20 programs to honor “Love Your Body” month and Eating Disorders Prevention month. The programming, which begins on February 23, is sponsored by the Judy Bradshaw Children’s Foundation, The Mary Black Foundation, and Veritas Collaborative Treatment Center.
The free or low-cost workshops at Mental Fitness’s new Nourish Prevention Center feature some of the region’s most acclaimed researchers as well as local artists and experts. Each of the education programs teach parents, young people, and educators valuable insights on a variety of primary prevention programs covering topics, like social/emotional learning, stress management, disordered eating, and obesity prevention. There are even classes for dads to learn how to improve a child’s self-esteem and a mother-daughter yoga workshop! Many of the trainings are the same evidence-based initiatives that Mental Fitness Founder and CEO Robyn Hussa Farrell has been bringing to schools and universities around the country for the past eight years. Some address tough topics like managing serious mental illness in schools, while others offer 5-minute mindfulness exercises for classroom teachers. There is also a fun “Inner Beauty” workshop for teens in which Hussa Farrell will team up with Spartanburg Art Museum Director Elizabeth Goddard to create artistic body empowerment books. The programing will windup with a staged reading of the Jonathan Larson award-winning rock musical NORMAL at the Hub Bub Showroom on March 2 directed by Valerie Barnet, who brought the Mental Fitness nonprofit programs to the South Carolina region three years ago.
Hussa Farrell is thrilled to be bringing her bold and innovative programs to Spartanburg and could not be happier to be able to offer this content to the community through so many incredible partners. “The only way we get ahead of the many mental health issues affecting kids from all backgrounds is to work together to get the conversation started. Mental Fitness is so grateful to the many community partners and organizations that are collaborating to bring evidence-based prevention and awareness programs to Spartanburg kids and families.”
Jennifer Evins, the President and CEO of The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, was instrumental in bringing Mental Fitness to Chapman Cultural Center and sees the collaboration paying off with so many new faces finding their way to the Cultural Center. “Being able to engage the arts in upstream solutions for wellbeing is important to meeting the needs of our community and expanding the synergies and creative opportunities for our citizens, artists, and professionals to collaborate. We are excited about the many offerings in the month of February, as well as the programs that Nourish provides every week at the Cultural Center.”
Chair of the Spartanburg Behavioral Task Force Tom Barnet says he is excited to see such a breadth of mental health education programs available to residents at every age. “We know that as we continue to develop our upstream skills in identifying and working with behavioral health issues, we will need to expand the downstream educational assets of our community. This is a significant step forward in that important direction.”
2015 marks the second year since Mental Fitness moved its operations from New York City to Spartanburg. Working with the nation’s top researchers in multiple areas of science, and with the help of community leaders, Mental Fitness opened the Nourish Prevention Center at Chapman this past November to bring primary prevention programs to Spartanburg children ages three and up, with parallel programs for parents. Spartanburg is the first city in the nation to pilot these groundbreaking prevention programs for pre-school age children. Prior to its decision to shift focus to the health of the region’s youngest children, Mental Fitness offered its “three-tiered” mental health education programs to teachers and administrators in all seven of Spartanburg’s school districts.
Some of Spartanburg’s most influential voices are on Mental Fitness’s Board of Directors including the Director of Access Health Spartanburg Carey Rothschild and long-time visionary in the community Valerie Barnet. Both are ready to see the Mental Fitness programs touch more residents of the county.
Barnet expressed her gratitude for the decision by Mental Fitness to bring its work to Spartanburg: "One of my great passions is to change lives for the better through arts-based programming. I have personally watched this happen while working on the rock musical NORMAL and other MFI prevention and awareness programs. This is an exciting opportunity for the citizens of all socio-economic backgrounds of Spartanburg to take part and improve their quality of life as they move towards mental wellness. We are truly blessed to have MFI at Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg!"
Rothschild emphasized that, “To truly impact the health of our citizens, we must consider the whole person – body, mind and soul. Mental Fitness offers quality, evidence-based programs designed to improve the lives of participants. The programming at the Nourish Prevention Center is unique in its potential to add positive and lasting change in our community.”
The workshops begin on February 23 and continue through March 7. Programs range from no cost to $10, and registration is required by e-mailing For a full calendar of events, go to Partners on the project include:
• Melissa DeRosier, Ph.D., 3C Institute, Research Triangle Park
• Jennifer Parker, Ph.D., USC Upstate Center for Child Advocacy Studies
• YogaLicious Yoga Studio
• Hub Bub Showroom
• Spartanburg Art Museum
• Magnolia Counseling
• Ballet Spartanburg
About Mental Fitness
Mental Fitness Inc. (“MFI”) is endorsed by dozens of state agencies and nonprofit partners and works in collaboration with more than 50 nationally acclaimed researchers in developmental psychology, epidemiology, public health, and medicine. For seven years, MFI has designed and implemented evidence-based arts and media programs that have shown to increase confidence in managing mental illness in the school setting, and have effectively informed students and families from all socio-economic backgrounds about the shared risk and protective factors that underlie mental illness, eating disorders, addictions and obesity.
Since inception in 2006, it is estimated that the programs have reached at least 700,000 individuals worldwide. Of those, it is estimated that a minimum of 2,500 individuals have sought treatment for eating disorders, addictions or other serious mental health complications. MFI’s live programs, films, seminars, and online tools have been presented in more than 100 conferences, in 5,000 high schools and universities, including at-risk, public and private schools. In addition, the programs are featured in medical, educational, and arts festivals worldwide. The populations served are as diverse as those who suffer from mental illness. Truly, all families and children have the potential to be empowered by MFI’s universal messages of mental fitness, self-esteem, mindfulness, and overall health.
About Robyn Hussa Farrell
Robyn Hussa Farrell is an award-winning New York City producer and performer, educator, and author. She is co-adaptor of the Jonathan Larson award-winning musical, NORMAL, which is the inspiration for forming Mental Fitness, inc. (formerly called NORMAL In Schools). She is also co-founder of Transport Group Theatre Company in New York City, recipient of the prestigious 2007 Drama Desk award and more than 50 award nominations and honors. Hussa Farrell has produced and directed more than 30 evidence-based programs for the Mental Fitness nonprofit and for other national nonprofit agencies, schools and partners. As a writer, she is author of the books Healthy Selfitude and Meditation & Mindfulness For Eating Disorder Recovery, and has served as Primary Investigator on many research studies (to be published in 2015-2016) and has provided a chapter in a new book by Carolyn Costin about yoga for recovery, which will be published in 2016 by Routledge. Hussa Farrell is the proud recipient of the 2014 Peace Award from Converse College/Westgate Family Therapy and the 2010 Champion in Women’s Health Award from the First Lady of Wisconsin, Ms. Sue Ann Thompson.
About Chapman Cultural Center
Chapman Cultural Center, owned and operated by The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, is the community's preeminent common ground where the people of Spartanburg County and its visitors come together to discover, experience, and celebrate the performing and visual arts, science and history. The 86,000-square foot, three-building facility held its grand opening on October 3, 2007, after an extensive fundraising campaign.
Chapman Cultural Center’s 500-seat theater is home to The Spartanburg Little Theatre and Ballet Spartanburg, as well host to many local and traveling performances. Founded in 1946, Little Theatre presents a live stage production every month during the regular September-May season, including shows by Spartanburg Youth Theatre, the second oldest youth theatre in the state. Ballet Spartanburg, founded in 1966, is recognized as a regional dance company with an exceptional commitment to education and outreach activities throughout the Upstate.
Chapman Cultural Center also houses three museums. Spartanburg Art Museum (SAM) is a regional museum supporting educational programming and diverse exhibitions from international, national and regional artists. Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg, the longest established guild in South Carolina, supports a gallery in the Moseley Building. Spartanburg Regional History Museum and Spartanburg Science Center have hands-on exhibits, developed in accordance with the South Carolina Academic Standards in Social Studies and Science that attract individuals of all ages. Other “partner” agencies associated with Chapman Cultural Center are Spartanburg Philharmonic Symphony, The Repertory Company of Spartanburg, and Carolina Foothills Artisan Centers in Chesnee and Landrum.
The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, also located in Chapman Cultural Center, provides the major funding for, as well as education through, many of Spartanburg’s arts and cultural organizations. The Arts Partnership’s Education Programs serve more than 40,000 public and private school students throughout Spartanburg County, with residencies by professional artists in the disciplines of music, dance, visual arts, literature, media, theatre and crafts.
Programs at Chapman Cultural Center are funded in part by the City and County of Spartanburg; the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts; and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

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