Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative

BOONE — The Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative’s annual trauma and resiliency conference is currently set for April 21 and 22 to be held virtually, with registration opening soon.

The conference’s partner sponsor is Stepping Stone of Boone, a medically-assisted addiction treatment program. Registration for the virtual conference will be open from Feb. 14 to March 14 and costs $25.

The conference will be the group’s fourth, since the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to WCCI Chair Denise Presnell. While the theme has just been carried over, Presnell said it has more impact now than it would have had a year prior.

“The theme is ‘Community is the Solution,’ which was actually gonna be our theme last year,” Presnell said. “I can’t think of a more applicable thing considering the past year of our lives that we’ve had.”

Everyone who signs up for the conference will be able to pick up a “resiliency kit,” which Presnell said would be full of “hands on tools for relieving stress and regulating emotions.”

Presnell said that while WCCI’s work has been ongoing for years, 2020 showed the importance of it on a larger scale.

“We’ve all now dealt with enormous amounts of adversity in this past year,” Presnell said. “I’m a school social worker, I’ve done this for 27 years and this is by far the most stress I have ever seen.”

The keynote speakers are what Presnell said she is looking forward to the most about the conference. Speaking will be Allison Sampson-Jackson, a motivational speaker for trauma-informed care and practices, community activist and blogger Brandon Wrencher and Michael Hayes, a trauma and resilience educator and founder of the Ujoma Health, Wellness and Justice Collective.

Also on the schedule are a litany of classes, including local law enforcement sharing how they get involved with the community, personal stories from those who have faced adversity and workshops on being trauma-informed.

For more information about WCCI or to sign up for the conference when registration opens, go to www.wataugacci.org.

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