Toivo Mind-body Center Presents the Prohealing Festival and 5K

Toivo, created by Advocacy Unlimited’s Executive Director Deron Drumm, is a mind-body wellness center that offers yoga, meditation, drum circles, qigong, Zumba, mandala art workshops, support groups and more. It is intended for people with or in recovery from mental health or addiction issues as well as the general population. All classes are donation based and nobody is ever turned away for lack of funds. This provides opportunity to those who may be unable to afford traditional studio classes to engage in positive activities they may never have been able to try otherwise.

Whether you or someone you love has struggled on life’s path, or you simply believe as strongly as those at Toivo do in the healing power of holistic practices, all are invited to attend on Saturday, September 26, at Walnut Hill Park in New Britain, for the ProHealing Festival and 5K. The festival is an opportunity to come together in community and to remind those who have lost hope that healing is possible. This free event will begin with a 5K walk/run followed by activities like yoga, sound healing meditation, drumming, qigong, Zumba and inspirational talks. There will also be a vendor village, chair massage, reiki, henna, face painting, hoop play, food trucks, a labyrinth and more. Come to celebrate the multiple pathways to healing and the strength of the human spirit.

The people who work at Toivo feel blessed to walk a true path each day. They proudly give back to people like themselves. In return, they get to experience the joy of seeing mind-body practices make a difference in the lives of others, fulfilling the dream of shortening the span of suffering for others. For anyone who is feeling depressed, anxious, lonely, scared or without a place to belong, Toivo is there to welcome you with a hug, a listening ear, a hot cup of tea, and perhaps a kick-ass yoga class.

To understand Toivo, one needs only look inside. Outside exists the fast-paced world; the Hartford streets filled with vehicles and people and all the associated noise. Inside, the atmosphere is quiet, calm and serene. Toivo director Kelvin Young begins each day sitting on a folded blanket in silent meditation at the mind-body center he oversees. Not long ago, Young began his meditation practice in a far less serene environment. He was in prison. He discovered meditation as a sad, angry and lost man, and it helped him rise above his circumstances and change the trajectory of his life. Seeing Young now makes it difficult to imagine the same man so low, caught up in the throes of addiction.

“He meets every individual who walks through the doors of Toivo with complete love and acceptance,” states Hilary Bryant, yoga instructor and Holistic Health Coordinator at Toivo. “His ability to support those who are suffering is unlike anything I have ever seen.”

When Drumm envisioned the creation of Toivo, he hoped for a place where all would be welcome, leaving labels at the door, inspiring individuals to take responsibility for their wellness and look within for strength, hope and healing. He hoped this for others as he had found strength, hope and healing from addictive behaviors and obsessive compulsive thoughts. Drumm’s passion is to help make holistic healing modalities like qigong, yoga, meditation and workshops on topics like nutrition and stress management more accessible for those with psychiatric and addiction histories or experiences.

“I am privileged to witness the transformative value of these practices every day. I have students who use yoga to help balance out their mood and energy, finding the necessary Yin to combat their overactive Yang qualities. Others attend our classes to fill voids in their schedule, keeping them from isolating, ruminating or engaging in addictive behaviors. For some it is all about learning to be in the present moment, learning to sit with themselves, maybe even love themselves,” states Bryant. “For many it is entirely about community. When at Toivo, people do not have to feel so alone, knowing that most everyone at a drum circle, sharing in both pain and laughter with them, has been where they are. It was only a few years ago that I was working through many serious life issues myself. Had I not found yoga, I know I would not be alive today. Toivo members keep me humble, reminding me of how lucky I am to be where I am today.”

To learn more about Toivo, visit To learn more about Advocacy Unlimited, Inc. visit, For event questions, call Hilary Bryant at 860-296-2338.



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