Western Maryland Community Program
Since 1999, we’ve collaborated with Allegany College of Maryland and more than 30 community partners to bring mind-body medicine to thousands of children and adults across Western Maryland.
For over fifty years, Allegany County in rural western Maryland has been in a state of crisis. The impact of generational poverty—caused by the closure of manufacturing plants in the 1970s, and long-term reliance on an extraction economy—has been compounded in recent years due to the opioid epidemic, escalating political divisions, and COVID-19. In response to these crises, members of this conservative, rural community are collaborating with us, and each other, to build a community-wide culture of wellness.
In 1999, the leadership of an area community college—Allegany College of Maryland (ACM)— invited CMBM Founder and CEO James S. Gordon, MD to bring an integrative approach to the college’s allied health curriculum. Through this collaboration, ACM’s Integrative Health department began offering a wide range of new credit courses, including Introduction to Mind-Body Skills, based on the CMBM model. ACM also factored the CMBM model into courses across disciplines, furthering their commitment to campus health, and hosted several CMBM Faculty who led community health institutes for ACM community members and other area colleges and organizations. These early efforts helped plant the seeds for decades’ worth of work to come.
From the early 2000s, ACM supported the participation of more than 20 faculty and community members in our Professional Training Program. In 2020, ACM and local partners invited CMBM into the community once more to help address the traumatic impact of the opioid epidemic with grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center.
Since 1999, more than 40 current and former ACM employees—including the College President and the Senior Vice President—have received training in the CMBM model. Ten employees have earned their certification in Mind-Body Medicine, ten serve as CMBM Supervisors, and another three as CMBM Faculty. Six have also served as CMBM interns in our Professional Training Programs.
In 2020, we trained 142 facilitators from local agencies and Allegany County Public Schools, including teachers, counselors, resource officers, and high school students. We also forged new partnerships with community colleges across the state thanks to the participation of 13 school representatives.
We’ve also partnered with ACM to integrate our model of self-care and mutual support into their institutional best practices and the community. ACM recently created a full-time position to fortify their “Culture of Care” and launched the ACM Resilience Institute, which will share their mind-body medicine work with other institutions and communities through consultation and educational services. In addition to integrating mind-body medicine into their curricula, ACM continues to run local Mind-Body Skills Groups and workshops through their Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development. ACM has received approval to offer continuing education credits for these groups and workshops, as well as CMBM’s Professional and Advanced Training Programs.
Allegany County is now a nationally-recognized leader in rural community mind-body health with more citizens per capita trained in mind-body medicine than anywhere else. We are committed to leverage this asset to build a replicable foundation of resilience in the community and realize the vision of the Community Wellness Coalition, which began in 2009 to promote western Maryland as a health and wellness destination.
Leveraging the infrastructure, deep connections, and unique role of community colleges as gatekeepers for grassroots change, community members trained in the CMBM model are working with ACM through the local leadership team, The Community Resilience Network (CRN), to scale and sustain this work to meet current and future needs.
Expanding the work to students of all ages, the CRN is working with Allegany County Public Schools (ACPS) to introduce mind-body medicine to students in alignment with Maryland’s new PreK-12 skills-based health curriculum and Blueprint for Education. Those with CMBM training are frequently requested to present mind-body medicine in health classes, wellness fairs, and professional development days. ACM is currently working with ACPS to offer longstanding 1 credit college course, “Introduction to Mind-Body Skills,” as an Early College course available to high school students.
ACM is piloting a number of programs that will further integrate mind-body medicine into its curricula, including mind-body medicine-infused Advising Circles and mind-body skills-based student orientation programs. The Community Resilience Network is also working to pilot a two-day mind-body skills intensive program to make the CMBM model more accessible to the community, while also expanding the use of Mind-Body Skills Groups as part of corporate and agency wellness programs.