The 11th annual Youth at Risk (YAR) Conference will be held at Endicott College in Beverly on Wednesday, June 8th. Attended each year by over 500 professionals from all over the region, this event has become an essential conference for providers of services to youth. YAR enables providers to deepen their knowledge of critical practices and reconnect with peers as they work to reduce the problems faced by many young people. Conference attendees can choose from over 20 workshops on topics ranging from the treatment of trauma and substance abuse to the effects of immigration on families, suicide prevention in adolescents, and identifying and treating youth with Aspergers Syndrome.
Kids, who have become involved with the social service system, often meet with a variety of organizations who are attempting to provide a complete continuum of care. When these providers know about each other, the gaps in services often close and the opportunities for success increase exponentially. While parents remain the first line of defense in keeping our kids from following self destructive behaviors, social workers, psychologists, youth counselors, teachers, school adjustment counselors, and public health workers are necessary elements for this task. YAR is a place where these providers can network and learn from each other what resources are available.
Hearing directly from those who have received services is an essential element of the Youth At Risk Conference. This year, a midday “Panel of Hope” will highlight former at risk youth who will share their stories of what brought them to the attention of human services, their journeys to recovery and stability and their advice for conference attendees looking for encouragement to continue their work. Providing some joy and rhythm to the lunch time break will be a performance by Express Yourself. This exciting and inspirational program offers at-risk youth the opportunity to explore art, music and dance as a path toward healthy identity and belonging. Express Yourself has performed at the Wang Theater and the White House and has become an annual treat for YAR attendees.
"The Youth At Risk Conference has attracted very engaging speakers and workshop facilitators", says Marian Myers, co-chair of the YAR organizing committee. This year’s keynote speaker will be Edward Hallowell, M.D. a child and adult psychiatrist, and director of The Hallowell Center in Sudbury, Massachusetts. He has authored eighteen books on various psychological topics, including attention deficit disorder, the power of the human connection, and the childhood roots of happiness in life. Recent keynote presenters have included: Jack Williams of Channel 4 and founder of Wednesday's Child and Dr. Ross Greene, the author of the highly acclaimed books' The Explosive Child' and 'Lost at School'".
To thank the sponsors, agency executives, and public officials who support YAR, a pre-conference breakfast is held. This year’s breakfast speaker will be the Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, who oversees 17 state agencies and serves in the Cabinet of Governor Deval Patrick.