Kicking Things Off in Houston – Recap: Day 1 of “Stronger Together” Conference

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The mural greeting conference-goers outside of the Westin Galleria is fitting – we sure are feeling inspired after the first full day of our annual conference in Houston!

The mural greeting conference-goers outside of the Westin Galleria is fitting – we sure are feeling inspired after the first full day of our annual conference in Houston!

 

Phew! Day 1 of TNOYS’ 33rd annual conference was jam-packed with exciting, educational and motivational speakers and workshops that truly embodied this year’s conference theme, “Stronger Together.”

 

The day started off with the inspiring – and entertaining – opening keynote speaker Tara Brown (also known as The Connection Coach). She challenged the audience to use our “leadership footprint” to make ourselves likeable to the youth we work with, and to “set our intent to find the story behind the story” in involving youth and families in our work. As one conference attendee said: it was “probably one of the most powerful, relevant, inspirational, and motivating keynotes I’ve heard.” We agree!

 

Click here to get a little dose of inspiration with a video clip of Brown from this morning.

 

After the opening keynote, three workshop sessions were offered, with nearly 20 different workshop topics for conference attendees to choose from. We were lucky enough to drop in on the Star of Hope Mission’s session, where the audience played with Play-Doh to help illustrate the analogy that the young adults Star of Hope works with – and the staff themselves — are molded on their journey together just like clay.

 

The team from Star of Hope Mission’s youth and family shelter displays the Play-Doh they brought to help people understand the process of molding those they help (and being molded themselves in the process).

The team from Star of Hope Mission’s youth and family shelter displays the Play-Doh they brought to help people understand the process of molding those they help (and being molded themselves in the process).

 

The idea that we can all learn from each other was reinforced throughout the day’s workshops. A team from Baylor College of Medicine shared their experience building a transition planning tool (TPT) into their electronic health records at Texas Children’s Hospital to help transition patients from pediatric to adult care. But they didn’t just share their own expertise, they also asked for audience suggestions on questions to ask patients at the hospital to better understand their mental health needs. And in an interactive workshop hosted by CitySquare, participants put themselves in the shoes of youth aging out of the foster care system to better understand the chaotic process they face.

 

While we were away from TNOYS’ home base in Austin, there was still a chance to learn about what’s going on in the state capital, with an update from executives at the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and a presentation on new federal and state laws that impact services to homeless students.

 

That’s just a few of the sessions that were held today – there has been a lot to take in and think about, but for now we’re going to relax and catch up with TNOYS member organizations from across the state at our evening membership meeting and reception.

 

Take a look at our conference program to see what’s still to come, and check back tomorrow for more updates on our blog from day 2 of the conference!