Back to Healing (BTH), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps improve the quality of life for people affected by scoliosis, recently partnered with Medtronic (a global technology leader, medical services and solutions). The collaboration will provide free implants, surgical instruments and materials to underprivileged children living with severe scoliosis in Brazil.
BLACK CORPORATE speak with Marcus John, the founder and executive director of Back to Healing. John spoke about the mission of his nonprofit, the recent partnership with Medtronic, and how he runs his organization while working in the fashion industry.
You started a non-profit organization to improve the quality of life for people affected by scoliosis. Why and what is the mission of Back to Healing?
Growing up, I was always taught to lend a helping hand to people in need wherever I could. Whether financially, mentally, emotionally, creatively, or in this case, all of the above – even if I am unable to relate to a single experience. My professional background is in the fashion and art industries as a creative director, producer and wardrobe stylist. My job is to come up with unique and intriguing concepts for brands, publications and musicians. Whether for their marketing and branding campaigns, their lookbooks, their editorials, their parades, their clips, their exhibitions, etc. Personally, I’ve always had a passion for strong storytelling and powerful visual stories.
After having a friend suffer from a severe S-shaped spinal curvature while growing up, I witnessed firsthand the daily struggles of what it’s like to live with scoliosis; seeing with empathy the drastic physical and mental effects. I knew I wanted to be a positive inspiration to my friend and the many people with this condition by making each and every one of them feel beautiful in its purest form – where the definition of strength and true beauty is not hampered by society. superficial projections. I want the world to realize that beauty is not just superficial. At Back to Healing (BTH), our mission is to improve the quality of life for those affected by scoliosis through mental health awareness, empowerment, education and advocacy.
You also worked in the fashion industry for a while. How have you been able to stay in the fashion world while helping people heal?
I strategically founded my non-profit organization, BTH, to own and operate on a few key things that I care about and care about the most – mental health awareness, advocacy, empowerment, art, fashion, education and strong storytelling. I know it may sound cliché, but when I design BTH’s programming and projects alongside my team, it doesn’t feel like I’m “working.” It’s a bit like running a creative agency with a deep purpose.
Ironically, I can still work with many fashion brands such as Lulu Lemon, Alex and Ani, Jimmy Choo and Michael Kors, but in a totally different way. For example, I co-designed an exclusive three-piece capsule collection with Alex and Ani, in which all items sold out online and in-store. We also created a mini yoga and wellness retreat in New York a few years ago sponsored by Lulu Lemon, where everyone in our class lived with a spinal deformity taught by a certified yoga instructor. who also had scoliosis.
Back to Healing recently partnered with Medtronic. Explain what the collaboration is and the expectations of the partnership?
In the United States and the developed world, early detection, observation, and treatment most often prevent spinal deformities such as scoliosis from progressing to severity. In many underserved countries, however, there is a lack of awareness and care for these conditions and as a result they are allowed to progress unchecked until they become extreme and dangerous. Large spinal curvatures can not only lead to significant aesthetic deformity and poor posture, but can also compromise lung, heart, and spinal cord function, as well as mental health.
With an elite group of doctors, medical volunteers and psychologists passionate about helping communities in need, BTH, in partnership with Medtronic, will carry out missions in Africa, South America and the Caribbean. During these week-long mission trips, BTH provides free medical, mental health, and surgical care to up to 10 patients with severe scoliosis. Medical implants, instruments and equipment will be provided by Medtronic. The BTH mission trips will be dedicated to improving the overall health care of patients with scoliosis while providing training experience and education to local surgeons at each hospital. Not only will patients benefit directly, but our team will create a sustainable program by training and empowering local surgeons to be able to operate safely without us even after we are gone.
A huge measure of success will be getting all of the positive results from the severe scoliosis cases that our team will operate on, coupled with a wonderful follow-up.
There is a proponent of mental health associated with scoliosis. How will Back to Healing treat the complications that come with scoliosis?
Before answering this question, I would like to highlight a few types of mental health issues that surround this condition. Various explanations exist for why there is a link between scoliosis and reduced quality of life. Noticeable curvatures of the back, shoulders, and hips while sitting at different heights can lead to low self-esteem and a negative perception of self-image. Additionally, wearing a brace in grade school when you already have to deal with the normal pressures of growing up as a teenager and/or have a permanent curvature or scar on your back after surgery can also compromising psychological integrity – for both teens and teens. adults. The truth is, many people just don’t want to be seen let alone engage in any type of sport, dance, or occasion that exposes their spine.
By understanding the juxtaposition of spinal deformities and mental health, BTH strategically creates projects, programs and campaigns that empower and educate those affected by scoliosis to help break the stigma within our society. Our organization’s holistic approach to scoliosis has shown that this condition is not limited to curves and its degrees, as 96% of participants in our BTH campaign felt empowered through their participation in our mental health programs. Participants also felt they had been given a voice and expressed the development of a new self-love and a better appreciation of their own body image.
Representation, diversity and inclusion are extremely important to us, and studies have shown that finding similarities in other people helps us live happier and healthier lives, and these are exactly the issues that our exposures BTH Empowerment Photo x Art Exhibitions address. As research indicates, art heals, and through the power of art therapy and performance, our carefully designed projects inspire, educate, and help those affected by scoliosis cope with and recover from scoliosis. ‘a trauma.
What do you foresee in terms of future expansion for Back to Healing? What would you like to see happen?
At BTH, we have big plans. From running annual mission trips for inner city kids in the Caribbean, Africa and South America to provide free surgical and mental health care, to launching celebrity empowerment, research and patient education summits, to continue to highlight and celebrate more diverse stories globally through our photo and empowerment art exhibits, to the implementation of a new back-to-school program that provides free dental checkups and braces in conjunction with some of the world’s leading surgeons and medical device companies, and more. We strive to be the premier patient organization specializing in all things scoliosis, from education to empowerment, mental health awareness, advocacy and spine art.