Los Angeles was recently invigorated with the joy, connection, and empowerment that “EMBODY: Empowering Mental Health through Community Wellness and Creativity” brought to the community. Over 700 community members attended this extraordinary day of holistic wellness and artistic expression, which took place on Saturday, May 18, at Hope on Union. The event was designed to be a beacon of healing, and to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month through the support of CalMHSA and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

The event, which was MC’d by TEDx global public speaker and poet Sean Hill, delivered a plethora of activities that were aimed at promoting the wellness of both the body and soul. Those in attendance took part in spiritual yoga and tai chi sessions, a public photo booth, dance and collaboration in playshops, created an art mural, and engaged in thought-provoking discussions on mental well-being and financial wellness. Music from local DJ Tyrone Ward and songs from the all-female sextet group Mariachi Lindas Mexicanas added to the atmosphere.

During the event, the community received professional plant-based offerings that were provided by Chef Tony of Sunny Express Gourmet Fast Food, Chef Megan Tucker of Mort and Betty’s, Vegan Liberian cuisine by Mamie Peppa, and Chef Supreme of Harvest Academy, who represented Big Mountain Foods.

Beverages were also offered by Hannah Said of Saffron Cowboy, as well as by Rich Bertrand of Nija Wellness. Both the food and drink added to a celebration of cultures.

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With help from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s Take Action LA Initiative,  EMBODY will not just be a one-time event, but a part of a movement dedicated to mental health awareness and support for LA County residents. The initiative was made in collaboration with Vegans of Los Angeles, and continues to make an impact on the community.

Gwenna Hunter, the founder of Vegans of Los Angeles and even collaborated, stated that she was “so pleased that we were able to provide this community with a day of absolute ease, celebration of wellness, live music, education, free quality merchandise, a free abundant produce market, and delicious plant-based hot foods. To see all the smiling faces, the children laughing and playing, moms sitting down to a nourishing meal and families spending time together brought so much joy to our hearts.”

L’lia ‘Tizzle’ Thomas, who co-created EMBODY and is the founder of Soul SistarMystique Aromachaura, also stated, “This was a beautifully diverse event that called for us to nurture our mind, body, and spirit. It was a profoundly memorable and life-changing day that was a true embodiment of love, art, and bliss.”

DeAnna Carpenter, the founder of She Who Builds LLC and an EMBODY Co-Creator, added: “I’m grateful we were entrusted with this opportunity to infuse the community with more beauty, joy, laughter, lightness, accessibility, and a variety of resources that we hope will sustain and inspire them in their daily lives and in their wellness and wellbeing journeys.”

EMBODY was created to untangle the stigma surrounding mental health, as well as to provide a welcoming space where prevention, education, and encouragement could flourish.

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