United Way sponsors State of the Child

Pictured from left are Dr. Marisa Cornell, Mediation and Restorative Justice Center; Kelly Baruth, counselor at Blowing Rock Elementary School; Jennifer Warren, Western Youth Network; Denise Presnell, Watauga County Schools social worker; Tom Hughes, chairman of the High Country United Way board; Dr. Gary Childers, executive director of High Country United Way; Mary Boys, board member of High Country United Way; Joan Hearn, board member of High Country United Way; and Dick Hearn, board member of High Country United Way.

BOONE — Multiple community organizations have signed on as sponsors of the State of the Child Forum, which is less than two months away.

The event is being held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 5, at Boone United Methodist Church in Boone to raise awareness of childhood trauma and the negative impacts it has on communities, as well as to develop strategies for addressing the problem.

The community impact event seeks to bring together all sectors of the community, including the medical community, the behavioral health system, law enforcement, media, politicians, juvenile justice, the school system, the Department of Social Services, Appalachian State University, the faith community and other key stakeholders.

High Country United Way earlier this month became a primary sponsor with a $5,500 donation to help cover the costs of the event.

“The whole idea of children getting off to a good start is very important, and we know that pays off in the long run,” High Country United Way Executive Director Gary Childers said. “Particularly we know how devastating it can be if a young child experiences trauma in some way in their early formative stages, and how that can have negative impacts throughout the rest of their life.”

Problems such as substance abuse, delinquency, domestic violence, obesity, smoking, poor health, criminal offenses, child welfare issues and mental health problems have been shown by studies to be more likely in those who faced a traumatic event or toxic stress as a child, according to the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy at Florida State University.

Strategies for addressing childhood trauma and preventing or mitigating its negative impacts include promoting understanding of trauma and toxic stress, identifying trauma through screening tools and utilizing trauma-trained therapists who can provided evidence-based supports and treatment.

Communities that engage in these strategies are known as trauma-informed communities.

Denise Presnell, who is coordinating the form along with community partners, hopes the event will be the first step in making Watauga County a trauma-informed community.

“We want everybody from the community on the same foundation for trauma work, and we want to develop an action plan for moving forward,” Presnell said.

The morning of the forum will feature speakers and presenters, focusing on trauma effects, statewide and in our community, and trauma prevention, intervention and treatment. Dr. George “Tripp” Ake, a licensed psychologist who specializes in trauma and trauma treatment, will be the morning keynote speaker.

Lunch will be provided. The afternoon will include mixed-group brainstorming sessions with trained facilitators. Closing the afternoon will be Tonier Cain, a globally known speaker with a focus on trauma-informed care.

Presnell said that plans are for a steering committee to be formed that will meet monthly following the forum.

Pre-registration is requested, and a pre-registration form is available at https://goo.gl/forms/Q1tah89wFK3KQK7p1.

Additional sponsors of the event include the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, Appalachian State University Public School Partnership, Watauga Community Collaborative/LICC, Watauga County Schools, AppHealth Care, Boone Service League, Reeves Law Firm, Blue Mountain Center, WJ Office City, Harris Teeter, Hardee’s, BAYADA Home Health Care and Walmart.

For more information or to request an invitation to the event, contact Presnell at 828-264-8481 or presnelld@watauga.k12.nc.us.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.