Our conference theme – “Stronger Together” — was in full force today, as we were joined by more than 100 young adults and their family members for the start of the youth and family track. This is the first time we’ve included youth in the conference and it was a huge success, reinforcing just how important it is to engage young people in strategies for their development.
We started the day off hearing from The Elite, trained professional youth speakers from Angel Reach in Conroe, who shared the struggles and successes they’ve faced in their lives. Our keynote speaker Stephany Bryan from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health followed up by sharing her own struggles as a parent involved in the system and emphasizing the importance of human connection, trust and positivity.
After the keynote, we had another full day of workshops, with youth and families joining in on many of them. As one participant said, “The best part of my day has been learning from and alongside youth participants.”
Several workshops focused on overcoming stereotypes young people often face, from race to family background to education level. Professionals from the Houston Health Department led an interactive game called “Who Wants to be a Stereotype?” that helped break down misconceptions of today’s youth, and the Center for the Healing of Racism led a roundtable discussion where young people and adults openly shared how negative stereotypes have impacted their lives.
Everyone came together for a luncheon featuring speaker Tyrone Smith, a former NFL player who shared how his time on a team (the San Francisco 49ers) taught him about the importance of being “stronger together.”
The afternoon ended with affinity group sessions, where groups of attendees in similar personal or professional situations discussed each other’s real-life challenges and developed solutions together.
We’re excited to spend the evening with all the conference attendees at a Mardi-Gras-themed reception, and unwind a little bit before all the fun and learning starts again in the morning! Check back for a final recap on the blog tomorrow…