Turning Difficult Personal Struggles into Joyful Collective Opportunities (Takes a Village to Support a Parent)


After having worked for a good long time as a staff on strengthening families by building Strengthening Families Protective Factors, Be Strong Families had a collective epiphany. We were at a staff retreat and talking about our favorite subject when someone said: “A strong parent is a healthy parent.” 

We began talking about what it means for a parent to be truly healthy: physically, but also mentally ... and spiritually. We thought about the question: what puts a child more in danger than a sick parent? We also realized that, for us, the existing Strengthening Families Protective Factors framework that has been the foundation of our efforts to keep families strong, didn’t adequately or completely address the dimension of health. Perhaps an obvious insight, but it rocked our world and started us on a path of co-creating with parent leaders a peer-to-peer approach to encouraging each other’s holistic wellness. We call this Journey to Vitality. 

Ultimately, we came to understand holistic wellness as multidimensional, including: physical, mental, spiritual, financial, social, and environmental health. We co-created multiple ways to turn what is usually a personal, private struggle to a wellspring of community joy. These include Vitality Cafes, a website that links self-care with financial support for Be Strong Families (www.journeytovitality.org), and a revolutionary work-family (think work-wife / husband, work-daughter) strengthening program that enlists corporate HR professionals to promote holistic vitality and positive work culture among their company’s employees. 

We are just getting started and the initial buzz is phenomenal. We are also going to document the heck out of results and outcomes from participants. We suspect that focusing on one dimension of vitality will also improve other aspects as well and we can’t wait to find out if our hunch plays out the way we think it will. 

Please consider yourself invited to participate. Here are 4 things you can do to be part of increasing parents’ health as a foundation for the well-being of their family: 

  1. Sponsor a journey: our journeyers are not walking 5 K or dancing all night for us. They are setting a personal goal and looking for emotional support and cheerleaders from their friends and family, as well as soliciting donations for Be Strong Families' great work (boosting our ability to be self-directed and develop and implement programs like JTV without getting funding first!). Here’s a link to my journey; I would love to have you as a backer / sponsor. 
  2. Start your own journey! We would love to have you as part of our online wellness community.
  3. If you are already hosting Parent Cafés, why not get out of the box and mix it up with some Vitality Cafés? We have a half-day training available for people who are already Parent Café-trained. You can buy the Vitality question deck here.
  4. Put your company in touch with us to pilot our Corporate Vitality program.

To learn more about Journey to Vitality, check out the Journey to Vitality page. We value and appreciate your support of our empowered engagement / peer-to-peer activities to keep families strong!

Article by Katthe Wolf, Founding Partner and CEO of Be Strong Families