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Join Project Thrive

What is Project Thrive?

The Chicago Wolves always strive to be the best community partner to our neighbors and fans. Together with #SameHere Global Mental Health Movement founder Eric Kussin and the #SameHere Alliance of athletes and practitioners, the Wolves have created Project Thrive to change the conversation about mental well-being in the greater Chicago area.

While surveys claim 1 in 5 people deal with “mental health issues” at any given time, we believe life’s journey and its inevitable challenges make mental health a “5-in-5” topic that exists on a continuum for everyone. We use Project Thrive to emphasize that everyone should be supported and encouraged to discuss mental wellness freely — while offering biweekly initiatives designed to help everyone thrive.

Project Thrive is meant to open dialogue, not diagnose. Neither the Chicago Wolves nor their affiliates provide clinical or medical care of any kind via their relationship with the #SameHere Global Mental Health Movement. At no time should a visitor/follower have an expectation of care or professional services being available or rendered.


The #SameHere movement was founded by 15-year professional sports executive Eric Kussin, who initially started the “We’re All A Little ‘Crazy'” foundation. The movement brings together athletes, celebrities and expert practitioners to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health.

The #SameHere global mental health movement is determined to spread this message: EVERYONE in the world is affected by life’s inevitable traumas and stresses. We can’t escape them, as they are part of the human experience, and they impact us on many levels. Mental health exists on a continuum (see above) for each person, though some experience more severe declines than others over varying periods of time in their lives (and some people are more genetically predisposed to such declines).

Because of this, the movement’s view is that we should all be open and accepting of those who need help — because we’re one community in this “crazy” world, all fighting our own unique, but often similar, battles. For more information about Eric and the #SameHere Global Mental Health Movement, visit www.samehereglobal.org.

The members of the movement — many of whom are professional athletes and celebrities — are determined to use their individual brands, but collective platforms, and their consistent #SameHere message about mental health on a continuum, to open up the world to this concept and make it socially acceptable among friends, family, and co-workers to talk freely about our mental health concerns and battles, and to applaud those who share those concerns and ask for help. #SameHere shares its message with schools and colleges, first responders, military and veteran organizations and businesses around the world.

Join us in the 5-in-5 #SameHere Social Media Challenge

We need your help to spread the word, raise awareness, make a difference and thrive. By participating you’ll be showing others mental health and wellness is “Same Here!” and 5-in-5. Please consider printing out the downloadable 5-in-5 #SameHere Challenge sign in this section. You can type in the boxes before you print the sign, or write in the boxes after you print the sign, but be sure to fill out what your current Challenge is as it relates to your mental health and then fill out how you Thrive in a way that helps your mental health. For examples, please refer to the video posted above.

Once your sign is completed/printed, take a picture of yourself holding it and post the photo to your social media channel(s). Tag three people in your post asking them to participate. Send us your picture using the form below to be added to our #SameHere Social Media virtual wall.

Use the hashtags #WolvesProjectThrive #SameHereChallenge and tag @samehere_global in your post.

Download the 5-in-5 #SameHere Challenge sign: PDF | Word Doc

5in5 #SameHere Challenge Submission

  • Accepted file types: jpg, jpeg, Max. file size: 5 MB.
    Please upload your photo as a .jpg file with a max file size of 5MB.

Project Thrive Zoom Sessions

We hosted our first six Project Thrive Zoom sessions from February to April. Now we’re embarking on our next set of six one-hour Project Thrive Zoom Sessions. All sessions take place on Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. CDT (see dates below). Each session will be led by an expert in integrative health, which is a holistic, patient-focused approach to health care and wellness. The purpose of these sessions is to discuss mental health, awareness and wellness in a judgement-free forum designed for easy learning – where we all come away with a better understanding how to manage our mental well-being.

Topics (and dates) for these six sessions are:

  1. We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know: Finding the Power to Change Our Mental and Emotional State/Circumstance (May 6)
  2. Breathing: Why We May Be Doing It Wrong (June 3)
  3. Cause & Effects: Stress, Your Brain & Your Body (June 10)
  4. Performance, Productivity and Mental Health in the Workplace (July 22)
  5. What is Secondary & Vicarious Trauma and How Does it Affect Us? (July 29)
  6. Navigating the Young Mind (Aug. 12)

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know – Finding the Power to Change Our Mental and Emotional State/Circumstance (May 6)

Description coming soon.

Breathing: Why We May Be Doing It Wrong (June 3)

This session will explore the connections between our nervous system, our breath, and our emotions. We will dive into how our nervous system affects our bodies and emotions, and the role that breathing plays in this. We will look at how breathing works, and why paying attention to it is important. Finally, we will explore and practice three hands-on techniques (including a STARR technique) for using our breath to help regulate our emotions and to create a sense of calm. This will be an experiential session, so please come prepared to explore your breath!

Cause & Effects: Stress, Your Brain & Your Body (June 10)

















Performance, Productivity and Mental Health in the Workplace (July 22)

Many people think of mental health issues as something that don’t impact them and certainly don’t affect their workplace. While 1 in 5 American adults report having a mental illness, more than 70 percent of adults have reported being affected by at least one symptom of stress — including headaches and/or feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Studies have shown stress and mental health issues can affect performance and productivity and have a large economic impact on U.S. companies in terms of absenteeism and medical costs. More important, you don’t have to be diagnosed with a serious mental illness to have your mental health impact your satisfaction at work. This presentation offers an integrative approach to dealing with mental health and its impacts on the workplace.

What is Secondary & Vicarious Trauma and How Does it Affect Us? (July 29)

When we are in survival mode (regardless if it’s because of small t trauma or big T trauma), whether it be fight, flight or freeze, our nervous system is no longer socially oriented where we feel connected to ourselves, to others and to a higher purpose. The world doesn’t feel safe or hopeful anymore, and it feels like it’s hard to trust others.


As we emerge from the pandemic and other traumas over this past year-and-a-half, where all of us have dealt with feeling unsafe, and fearful for our lives and our loved ones, our nervous system needs to recalibrate. How do we know we are there? You are going to learn about the polyvagal theory. This is where you learn how to biologically guide your body by tuning your nervous system back to internal equilibrium and feeling safe, connected and purposeful.


Navigating the Young Mind (Aug. 12)

One of the most important insights gleaned from the research on social and emotional well-being is that the person of influence in any situation establishes the emotional climate and tone. The implication of this insight on how we relate to young adults is significant: We parent, teach, coach, and mentor more with who and how we are than with the content of anything we say.

If we want emotionally intelligent and skilled young adults, we need to demonstrate emotional intelligence and skill in their presence. This presentation will explore how adults can help young adults become more emotionally skilled and resilient by practicing emotional skill and resilience together. When young adults see adults doing this vital work, they become aware of the possibility that a healthy and stable emotional life is possible with practice.

*All Zoom sessions will take place at 7:30 p.m. Central Time and last approximately 60 to 75 minutes

More integrative health topics and sessions will follow. There is a $10 charge for each session with a portion of the proceeds going back to #SameHere Global, which has arranged for the expert practitioners leading the sessions. When you select three sessions, you also receive a voucher for one Green-level ticket to a future Thrive Night at Allstate Arena. Select all six sessions and receive a voucher for two Green level tickets. All vouchers will be valid through the 2021-22 season.

Project Thrive Zoom* Sessions Scheduled Experts


Eric Kussin
Founder, We Are All A Little Crazy and the #SameHere Movement

Eric is a 19-year professional sports executive who got his start at the NBA League office. After five years with the League, he went the team business route and rose in the ranks with the WNBA’s expansion Chicago Sky & the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. He then switched to the NHL and led large staffs with the New Jersey Devils & Florida Panthers.However, a debilitating mental health crisis stopped Kussin’s career and life in its tracks for over two-and-a-half years. After many failed treatment modalities, he was lucky enough to learn healing practices that enabled him to dig out of his abyss, and ultimately thrive. He found a higher calling in “We’re All a Little Crazy” and #SameHere, the Global Mental Health Alliance.The Alliance is comprised of athletes and celebrities, along with media members, expert practitioners, advocates, and everyday heroes who’ve come together to make talking about mental health a common topic for “5 out of 5” of us. In less than three years, the Alliance’s #SameHere Movement and its customized programs have swept across American college campuses from Cornell to USC, corporate offices from CNBC to JP Morgan Chase, professional sports teams from the Los Angeles Clippers to the New York Mets, front line workers from the Department of Defense to the NYPD and have helped K-12 students across the country as well.
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Chukky Okobi
Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

  • Super Bowl XL Champion/Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Founder of Basic instructions Mind Mastery – Mental Boot Camp
  • College & American Football Player
  • Commercial Actor
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Dr. Sarah Schmidhofer
Integrative Psychiatrist

  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Associate Medical Director for the UPMC Center for Integrative Medicine
  • Registered yoga teacher at the 500-hour level with an additional “master” teacher certification from ISHTA Yoga in New York
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Judith E. Pentz, MD
Integrative Psychiatrist

  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of New Mexico
  • Board-certified in Integrative Medicine by ABHIM
  • Specialized in both Adult and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Author of “Cleanse Your Body, Return to Your Soul,” offering insights into both Nutritional and Ayurvedic healing modalities.
  • Original Board Member of the International Network of Integrative Mental Health (INIMH)
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Dr. Carolyn Coker-Ross,MD, MPH, CEDS
Integrative Eating, Body Image, Addiction Physician

  • International Speaker
  • CEO of The Anchor Program™
  • Graduate of Dr. Andrew Weil’s fellowship in Integrative Medicine
  • Co-Chair of the AAEDP-BIPOC (African American Eating Disorder Professionals–Black Indigenous People of Color)
  • Contributor to book: “Treating Black Women with Eating Disorders: A Clinician’s Guide.”

Author of 3 books:

  • The Food Addiction Recovery Workbook
  • The Emotional Eating Workbook
  • The Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Workbook
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Nesrin Abu Ata, MD
Integrative Psychiatrist

  • Founder of Mind; Alchemy
  • Board-certified Psychiatrist
  • Family Medicine Physician
  • Can see patients in these states: IA, IL, AZ,AK, CL, MN, WI, NE, ND, SD, KS
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Matt Dewar, Ed.D.

For almost two decades, Dr. Matt Dewar has served as an educator, instructional coach, and well-being coordinator at Lake Forest (Ill.) High School, introducing students and colleagues to research-based mindfulness and emotional intelligence strategies through academic courses, school-wide programs, and professional development.

Outside of Lake Forest High School, Matt has advised Fortune 500 executives, collegiate and professional athletes, and school districts nationally. Matt is also the former president of The Coalition of Schools Educating Mindfully (COSEM) and is the author of The Mindful Breathing Workbook for Teens (2021) and Education and Well-Being: An Ontological Inquiry (2016). His work has been featured on TEDx, NPR, Thrive Global and the National Wellness Institute.

View Profile

*Project Thrive Zoom sessions require pre-registration as space is limited. In order to participate, if you do not already have a Zoom account, you will need to download the free app. Links for the specific sessions will be sent out prior to each session.


Download the Maryville #SameHere Challenge sign: PDF

For more information on the 5in5 #SameHere Challenge or Project Thrive please use the form below.

Project Thrive Information Request Form

Project Thrive Book Club

Our Project Thrive Zooms cover a lot of ground on mental wellness, but sometimes we just want to learn more in a different fashion. Our solution? We’re creating the PT Book Club!

Unlike other book clubs where everyone must read the same book at the same time, we want to encourage everyone to explore and discover the topics that intrigue them most. When you join the PT Book Club, simply select a book off the downloadable list of recommended reads from #SameHere Psych and Celebrity Alliance members, Wolves staff and fellow Thrivers, and give it a read. Then fill out the brief registration form to participate in a monthly Zoom conversation about the books Thrivers have read that month. We’ll reach out to you once we receive your submission.

Our recommended reads list is a work in progress – continually growing- and we want PT Book Club participants to feel free to share their favorites, too. If you’d like to recommend any non-fiction books about mental health – awareness and wellness, mindfulness, gratitude, self-awareness or any other topic we’ve covered or will be covering – be sure to add it in the Suggested Reads section of the registration form.

Want to organize a PT Book Club? Reach out to Leslie at lmetcalf@chicagowolves.com

PT Book Club Recommended Reads List

Project Thrive Book Club Registration