A new Vail Valley nonprofit, Evolve Thrive Joy Youth, offers free mental health programs


Evolve Thrive Joy Youth is a nonprofit organization that works with youth and adults on mental health and other issues.
Priscilla du Preez/photo courtesy

You can learn a lot just by listening. That’s what Sheila Griffith found out after hearing comments from parents in the stands at the game, while backstage helping the drama club with their next project, or in the school parking lot. What was shared was the need for mental, emotional, relationship and nutritional support at a price that was affordable for all.

From these conversations Evolve Thrive Joy Youth was born. The new nonprofit organization offers free mental and emotional health programs to children and their parents in the Vail Valley.

Griffith, who began training as a massage therapist in 1996, earned her certification as a Pilates Instructor in 1998, and as a Nutritional Therapist in 2003, began to understand how emotions and mindsets affect the body and began to study these areas. She continued her education with Emotions Mentor Coaching trainings and became a Heartmath Resilience Coach. She is also currently completing certifications in Transformational Coaching and Authentic Relationship.

One could say that health and well-being was a lifelong calling for Griffith. She became interested in holistic health after finding success as a 17-year-old with a condition that doctors thought could only be treated with lasers or surgery. A naturopathic doctor gave her a method for 10 days.

“As a teenager, I was impatient and thought I was invincible, so I only used the method seven out of the 10 days,” she said. “I tested again and to everyone’s amazement I was clear and healthy. This set me on the path to understand our body and diet on a deeper level and to combine holistic principles with traditional medicine in my life.”

Support local journalism

Although mental health facilities are now a hot topic in the Vail Valley, Griffith said she felt more mental health options were needed in the valley when she moved here in 1996.

“I had used therapists before in my personal life and was struggling to find someone who I clicked with and who could afford it. Then I heard repeatedly that there is an urgent need for mental health education and practical action programs here in the valley,” Griffith said. “I had continued my own personal and professional growth and wanted to share what I had learned – often the hard way – with others so that they could have options at home and take care of themselves and in turn share what they had learned with those around them. “

Griffith believes that there are currently great ministries in the Valley working with youth and their parents, but there is still a serious shortage of therapists and counselors working in both individual and small group programs in the Valley.

“Last time I checked, people in need of counseling or therapy had a six to eight week wait to come in as new clients and could only be seen once every four to six weeks. Those wait times between appointments can prove disastrous, if not fatal, for some. The urgency, I believe, requires immediate attention,” Griffith said.

In addition to needing more support, Griffith said, people also need to overcome the stigma of needing mental and emotional support.

“In the 2019 Eagle County Behavioral Health Survey, cost, ease of use, and stigma around scheduling appointments were the three factors people were trying to overcome. Evolve Thrive Joy Youth aims to help ease the burden by offering free or low-cost options that are accessible to the community and that enable our customers to take action with practical and evidence-based tools,” Griffith said.

Griffith currently offers free programs for girls ages 12-19 and their mother/carer. Participants take part in a 10-week small-group wellness program she calls Tembea, which means journey or tour.

“Small group coaching and programming allows us to contextualize our perspectives, desires and lives. We know the power of being heard, witnessed and mirrored with others who are in a growth mindset, open to possibility and listening without judgment or assumptions. It is the path to understanding and growth. We put practical steps into action and celebrate failure, success and resilience,” said Griffith.

Evolve Thrive Joy Youth teaches children and adults across Eagle County easy-to-use, non-invasive technology for self-regulation, Griffith said. It teaches heart-brain coherence that kids implement with fun. You can actually see what’s going on in your body and with your emotions in real time. You learn self-regulation skills with results that can be easily observed.

“We’ve had an enthusiastic response to our program,” Griffith said. “Because we put our clients into immediate action with practical tools to improve their mental, emotional and physical health, people are invigorated and connected to each other and their mentors in the process.”

Griffith found that children and their mentors need communication tools.

“You need more value-free, heart-based connections in our world. Neuroscience tells us that when we communicate without judgment, guesswork, or advice, we control opioid receptors in our brain. Practicing these skills helps people feel connected and not alone, which is our fundamental need in life,” Griffith said.

Currently, Evolve Thrive Joy Youth is funded entirely by grants and private donations. It is now raising funds so it can focus on supporting those who need it, those who may slip through the cracks, and those who have not spoken up and may be in pain and silent about it. If you would like coaching or would like to make a donation, please visit or contact Griffith at and 970-376-2804.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *