Stretching Money, Minds & Muscles

This is part of a series about Mission Thrive Summer, a program of the Institute for Integrative Health and Civic Works' Real Food Farm that empowers youth with skills and knowledge for a healthy life.


In addition to farming, nutrition, and healthy cooking, Mission Thrive Summer introduces students to important life skills including money management. During week three students learned that every penny counts.


Crew leaders showed students a can of tomato sauce priced at one dollar and asked them how much of it goes to farmers, manufacturers, grocers, taxes, transportation, and other costs. Students were given a stack of a hundred pennies to distribute into cups corresponding to each category.


The goal of the exercise was to get students thinking—not just about how much farmers make, which is only 19 cents for the one-dollar can of tomato sauce, but also about how to spend and save money they earn for participating in Mission Thrive Summer.

Students were given a stack of Mission Thrive Summer Bucks and asked to calculate how many hours they would need to work to purchase items such as clothing, food, and sneakers.


Examining a marketplace table covered with pictures of items such as school supplies and sports equipment, students soon realized that they would need to be careful about where to put their money. 


“I need to work for three weeks to earn enough to pay for food and movies,” said Keishan, one of the Mission Thrive Summer students. While some said they looked forward to making purchases, others volunteered that they were going to set aside a portion of their pay for savings and emergencies.

It’s not just money that needs stretching 

Students in Mission Thrive Summer learn the importance of daily physical activity. Yoga postures and breathing exercises are good ways to keep the body active while keeping the mind calm. Participants discover that by controlling their breath they can better manage emotions such as anger and frustration.

“You can use breath and exercise to change your perceptions and to literally calm your nervous system,” says Annina Wells, a crew leader and yoga teacher. “And it’s great to practice yoga in groups because it creates a sense of community.”



During week three's yoga session, participants learned tree pose, a balancing posture performed on one leg to improve concentration and coordination. Once they were instructed to visualize sending roots down to the earth, students began to relax in the posture.

“Doing yoga exercises helps me feel more energized and relaxed and makes me feel at peace,” said Michael, a Baltimore City College high school student who plans to add yoga to his exercise regimen.

Other poses students learned were downward facing dog and a wide-legged stretch to help loosen tight back muscles.

“Yoga makes me happy,” said Alexus, who also attends Baltimore City College high school. “I like it. I’m a cheerleader, and yoga and cheerleading go together like peanut butter and jelly.”

Categories: Community Programs