Mission Thrive Summer


“I never would have thought I’d start planting and getting in the dirt!”

This teen is one of many Baltimore City high school students who surprised themselves while taking part in Mission Thrive Summer, a five-week, hands-on experience of farming, cooking, leadership, physical activity, mindfulness, and life skills development. Established in 2013, the program is gearing up for its fifth year. 

A partnership between the Institute for Integrative Health and Civic Works’ Real Food Farm, Mission Thrive Summer teaches youth how to plant and harvest food and then prepare it for lunch. Students learn the science of growing plants and vegetables, and how to apply principles of good nutrition to everyday healthy eating.

Regular exercise, sports, and field trips keep summer from being sedentary, while leadership training develops students’ teamwork, self-awareness and confidence to deliver health education to the community. Mindfulness training—a combination of yoga, breathing and silent reflection—equips them with tools for managing stress and regulating their emotions.

The program culminates in a competitive cook-off and a community health fair produced and presented by the students for Baltimoreans of all ages.

Through our partnership with YouthWorks, the Baltimore City youth employment program, many Mission Thrive Summer participants receive a paycheck for all their good work at Real Food Farm.

Learning from Mission Thrive Summer

The University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine conducted a study of Mission Thrive Summer, measuring potential increases in students' knowledge, changes in activity and dietary quality, and shifts in emotional well-being, perceived stress, and mindfulness. Based on program evaluation, the Institute for Integrative Health plans to refine this effective model for youth summer enrichment and share it widely.

Mission Thrive Summer and its outcomes have been presented in forums such as the National Summer Learning Annual Conference and the International Congress on Integrative Medicine & Health. 


Check out highlights from 2016

Cooking Battle Culminates Summer Program

Heating Up the Kitchen

Cultivating Mindfulness & Praise

Stretching Money, Minds & Muscles


See the Fox 45 TV interview

See WJZ-TV's story about Mission Thrive Summer

Here's what Baltimore Fishbowl had to say

Check out this Baltimore Times story

Take a look at this video from Harvey Hubbel!

Learn more about Mission Thrive Summer from this mini documentary.

Why Mission Thrive Summer Matters

During summer break, many young people become more sedentary and have poorer nutrition. 

All year round:

About one-third of U.S. high school students drink two or more sodas or other sugary beverages a day.

Only 15 percent of high school students get the recommended one hour of daily aerobic exercise. 

Obese teens who become obese adults are at much greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and abnormal kidney function.