STORY #8: Health & Wellness Pillar

The Health & Wellness pillar focuses on holistic health of the mind, body, and spirit. We work to teach students how to make healthy choices for their bodies, to nurture their spirits, and to care for their minds. Mindfulness is a core tool within this pillar. We believe that a balanced lifestyle is imperative in one’s mental health and building healthy communities.

“I am Love, I am Sovereign, I am Free, Hermione”

OCU’s Guest Artist Facilitator Hermione Rhones is a native Washingtonian, working artist, teacher (of many disciplines) & yogi/healer. 

As a dancer and a poet, I am inspired by other artists. I am intrigued by the artistic process and believe in it as a means of self-expression and growth that all humans require. I am passionate about holding space for youth, to see themselves as the powerful creators they are.

I came to work at OCU in the summer of 2015 as one of the facilitators of the summer retreat. I continued as a facilitator until 2017 in various high schools including DCPS’s Ballou and Cardozo. I also helped to coordinate and host the showcases. Since then, I have remained on as “guest artist facilitator” for retreats and workshops.

My yoga training has been an integral part of the mentorship that I bring to OCU youth. I introduce and encourage meditation as a tool for self-awareness and inner exploration. Yoga teaches us to regard ourselves and all others as whole beings with physical, mental, and spiritual aspects that require “work” in order to remain balanced. 

Every experience that I have been a part of with OCU has yielded a transformative epiphany for every participant. The exposure/introduction of plant-based eating, meditation & yoga, and more natural environs, never fails to evoke catharsis, gratitude, and empathy.


In celebrating OCU’s #20Stories20Years we’re highlighting two Fly By Light youth that exemplify each pillar: Artistic Expression, Social-Emotional Learning, Health and Wellness, Environmental Stewardship, and Social Justice.

Our featured youth for HEALTH & WELLNESS are Faith Conyers and Iman Bangura.


“Really chill” 12th grader at Dunbar H.S. 

Originally from South Carolina but lives in DC and is part of the LGBTQ community. 

When I was in Fly By Light we talked about ways to communicate like non-verbal communication, verbal communication, and we talked about what we’ve been doing with our families since we were stuck in the house for quarantine. That stuck with me because my family and I were really having to get to know how each other communicates. Usually, when I’m stressed I don’t take care of myself. I don’t treat myself well. But now when I’m stressed I work out a lot and I sleep and try to eat well. It’s a form of self-care that I keep working on to improve.

Once I made a Health & Wellness themed video about what I was going through when my depression started and stuff like that. I originally made a YouTube video but ended up not posting it. I’m really closed off when it comes to talking about certain stuff, but sometimes it’s just good to talk to something like a camera because it doesn’t have an opinion. A camera is not going to judge you, so it just feels real comfortable. 

Advice that I would share is mental health in relationships is very important and when you’re younger, you don’t think that abuse is not just when somebody puts their hands on you. There’s such a thing as mental abuse and stuff like that is real. I feel like people don’t talk about that at our age, so yeah, talk about it.


Resilient 10th grader at Dunbar H.S. 

“You have to invest time in yourself in order to invest in anything else.”

I got introduced to Fly by Light in middle school when I was in 7th grade. It was something that all middle school classes did in advisory. I was just so fascinated. I really got to know the facilitator that worked there which was Tyler. I loved Tyler for everything he stood for and everything everyone at One Common Unity and Fly By Light stood for. It really just helped me embrace myself and write and sing and just do poems and dance and be free. It also helped me find a lot of new friends. I participated with FBL from 7th to 10th grade – I just kept going on and on and on.

One of the best things I learned with FBL is being able to reflect. A reflection is where you reflect on yourself, like thinking before you do something. Because a lot of the things that I feel or do are considered impulsive. But now they’re not, I really take a second and think to myself, like, how would I even achieve this? How would I do it? I have to be realistic with myself and set expectations, but not to the point where you stop chasing your dreams. Of course, anyone can chase their dreams no matter how big, but you need to set goals and expectations. Then you know that you’re gonna come out of this all good because you reflected so deeply.

I’ve done many Fly By Light Showcases. I’ve performed poems and just this past showcase, sang a song. I also talked about paranoia which is mental health. I reflected on how we’re trapped all the time, stuck in our thoughts. Even though not everyone can relate, if I speak on something that I’m passionate about, people will listen because they know that you’re really passionate about it.

I’ve learned to take chances. Ever since I was little, my mom has been telling me: “life is too short not to try, so try! Try, try, try! No matter how big no matter how small, try.” I have definitely learned to put this into practice, thanks to Tyler. When I first started going to Fly by Light and to meetings and everything, I had this really closed off personality that kept me from a lot of things. I have to trust people a little more and not be so hard on myself. So one day last year, I went up to a random person in school and I was like, “Hi, how are you?” We started talking and now we’re friends, we’re good friends and I’d say it was a really good lesson to learn! Just really try to see the world, step out of your own shoes and try to look at it in a different way.

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