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Team of Strength

Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma

Welcome to the Team of Strength, supporting Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (ASTT). We are so pleased to have you with us. Your involvement is the result of many individuals coming together and taking strides towards individual healing and peaceful community building. We hope that this experience will be inspirational, educational, and truly rewarding. Your support directly impacts our organization and we hope to make this a meaningful experience for everyone involved.

Feel free to get in touch with us at any time by
or by phone: 410-464-9006

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ASTT’s Team of Strength is gearing up for the Baltimore Running Festival on October 13th. The organizers of the festival are expecting a record number of participants this year (see article here)! It’s going to be an exciting day and journey to the finish line.

Our first group run is tomorrow morning and we’re so excited to meet some of our team members. We’re going to lace up, get out on the NCR trail bright and early (really just 8:30, but hey, that’s pretty good for a Saturday), and enjoy the beautiful trail before it gets too hot out! Depending on how sweaty we get, we’ll post some pictures :-)

Hope everyone’s enjoying the summer!

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June 26 is the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

It is a day for all of us to unite with a common voice to recognize:

  1. Individuals who are healing from the physical and psychological effects of torture;
  2. Families who are coming to terms with the trauma that loved ones have survived;
  3. Communities where survivors of torture strive to build positive relationships;
  4. Places such as Maryland and Washington DC are where thousands and thousands of torture survivors live and work.

The United Nations General Assembly selected June 26 to honor June 26, 1987, the day the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment entered force. The convention reaffirms that the equal and inalienable rights of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world. Read the UN Convention Against Torture.

The Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International (TASSC) has designated the entire month of June as Torture Awareness Month. We support this effort, calling upon our friends and colleagues throughout the United States as well as abroad, to participate in this campaign. All efforts, large or small, are important to achieving our goal of a torture-free community.

The Team of Strength has always known that running helps our team members feel better, that’s why we encourage those around us to hit the road. The endorphins, the mental clarity, the freedom, and the strength are all the things we hope to achieve when we head out with our sneakers laced up. There’s nothing quite like the healthy feeling you get after a good run, don’t you think?

1. Research has shown that nothing relieves stress more than physical exercise. Run when you are feeling angry or frustrated to burn off the extra energy.

2. Running increases endorphins which contributes to a general sense of well-being and mood elevation, so running can make you feel better when you are sad.

3. Running is an excellent way to fight anxiety. Naturally inducing and recovering from the adrenaline response allows your body to practice recovering from physical effects of anxiety.

4. If you are feeling lonely, try  running on a local trail (NCR Trail, Lake Montebello, Druid Hill Park). This will expose you to several people enjoying the weather and/or exercising, as well as dogs and kids, and present many opportunities to enjoy and share a smile.

5. Running gives you an opportunity to experience freedom and can be the perfect escape from stressors, being inside all day, or the daily grind when you are feeling trapped.

6. You can increase your self-esteem and feel empowered by running by accomplishing goals, experiencing what your body can do, and re-defining yourself.

7. Running also gives you an opportunity to escape into your own world, tune out everything else, refocus, and be refreshed. You may need a break from stressors or people or just to allow your brain to rest.

Yesterday was National Running Day and we were celebrating! National Running Day is held annually on the first Wednesday in June and is a day where runners everywhere declare their passion for running. Wherever we are and whomever we’re with, we run- fast or slow, alone or with others, all over town or just around the block. It’s a coast-to-coast celebration of a sport and activity that’s simple, inexpensive, and fun. It’s the perfect way for longtime runners to reaffirm their love of running and for beginners to kick off a lifetime and life-changing commitment.

Are you a committed runner who looks forward to every time you can lace up your running shoes and pound the pavement? Are you new to running and looking for some inspiration to keep you moving over the summer months? The Team of Strength is a great way for everyone to get involved in a fun, inexpensive, and richly rewarding activity. Grab a friend and get involved!

Here are some links to information about the reasons we run, the reasons we have a Team of Strength. These links were posted on our Facebook page last week but are worth repeating here.

Our latest eNewsletter - “we have statistics, outcomes, and information to share”

The US Department of State released a report of human rights and country conditions in 200 countries.

The 2012 Amnesty International Report documents human rights conditions all over the world.

I recently came across this article about a marathon team in Canada – Anne’s Team. I found it interesting because of the common theme with the Team of Strength. As the article describes “…the members of the team run for their own physical and mental health and at the same time, raise funds for the mental health of young people by supporting local programs…” it was clear that there is so much that is positive about running the marathon and supporting the important work at the same time. The Team of Strength works to ensure that there are mental health and case management services for survivors of torture and Anne’s Team has different goals – but the reasons and the methods are much the same.  Here is a link to the article “marrying the marathon and mental health” that came out in April 2012 written by Farah Mohamed in the Globe and Mail.

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Is a marathon for me? Twenty-six miles is a long way and even the half-marathon at 13 miles seems a lot more than I can do.  How about a 5k – now that seems more than manageable and would probably be a lot of fun! And there are no age limits to participation. Support ASTT, have fun, run 5k (it is only 3.10 miles – do I have that right, folks?)

The Baltimore Running Festival also offers a team relay – you plus three friends running 5.9 to 7.1 miles (each leg is slightly different).  So JOIN US! We have a distance for you (and if you rather support us by not running – we have great opportunities to volunteer.) Everything you do supports our work with survivors of torture.

We are looking forward to hearing from you at

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Fadesola ran with the Team of Strength in March at the National Marathon. We loved hearing about her experiences as she prepared for the race. She was always enthusiastic and energetic and we were quick to learn that despite her initial fear, she was a consummate fundraiser. All of the money raised by the Team of Strength directly supports ASTT’s life-changing client services. Below, Fadesola shares her experience.

I decided to register with ASTT’s Team of Strength to embark upon my very first half-marathon. For a self-proclaimed non-runner, 13.1 miles seemed like a daunting task and what was even more scary was the idea of raising $500! I’ve always helped with fundraising campaigns at the group or organization level, but at the individual level? That was a new thing to me. A neophyte to the process, I decided to take an amateur approach and begin mapping out ideas on how to raise money.

I reside in the D.C. metropolitan area, so there are number of bars and lounges that typically work with individuals and non-profit organizations to help them raise money for cause. Noble approach, but I thought this would take too much time. Instead, I decided to aggregate a list of contacts: friends, family members, present colleagues, former colleagues, associates, etc. If I knew you, I was adding you to my contact list! After I pulled together my contacts, I put together a compelling note, or so I thought, about using the half-marathon as a personal opportunity to take on a physical challenge for a wonderful cause. I sent an e-mail to everyone I had on my contact list– in the e-mail I was sure to place a link to my FirstGiving donation page as well as a link to my blog, where I promised to keep them updated on my marathon training program. Coupled with this approach was the social media lever. I have to admit, I don’t like when people send me constant reminders via e-mail or sms text messages; with that in mind, I was sure to update my LinkedIn and Facebook social media pages with links to my FirstGiving donation page and my personal blog.

When you are constantly reminding people with visible cues, text or just blatant “in your face” reminders, they understand that you are serious about the cause and they are more willing to assist. When I reached my $500 goal, I was shocked. Partially because some of my donors were people I hadn’t spoken to in a while and there were a group of individuals who I just did not expect to donate to me at all! What I’ve learned about this experience so far is to leverage all of your circles, professional, academic and personal. You will be surprised who’s willing to support you on your journey! To all my co-runners, I wish you continued success and the best of luck as we work together!

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