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Roanoke mental health group hosts follow-up event, focused on youth

Mental health professionals in Roanoke are building on what they’ve learned from one event in order to expand their efforts this weekend.

The Healing Centered Community Northwest and Northeast Youth Conference looks to help people overcome trauma, and build resilience.
A September conference involved faith leaders, but no young people. Christine Gist, Director of Roanoke Prevention Alliance, says Saturday’s event is focused specifically toward Black youth.

“We’ll have at least one youth on the panel, and we’re trying to add another youth to create a safe space for youth to feel empowered to speak up about the things that they would like changed in their life," she explained. "It’s important to hear from the people that we’re trying to help.”

Roanoke Prevention Alliance
Roanoke Prevention Alliance

Gist says the vision for the Healing Center Community conferences is to shape them for the communities the RPA is interacting with.

Darnell Wood is Community Outreach Coordinator for Hill Street Baptist Church. He said it’s important to have panelists who can relate to young people as well, including a teacher at William Fleming High School.

“There was one gentlemen, Antonio Stovall, and I’ve seen him interact among the youth," he said. "To see them engage – he can talk their language. My sons are adults at 33 and 36. They respond to him in a different way than they respond to me.”

"It is so important - when I talk to youth, do I actually listen? I've got to do a better job of listening," he explained. "One thing I've found about the younger people that are talking to them - they get those children and those teens to dialogue with them much more efficiently than I ever would."

Wood says based on Saturday’s feedback, planners hope to follow-up within the next couple of months.

The conference is from 10 to noon at Roanoke’s Melrose Library. Anyone is welcome, but people are encouraged to RSVP.

Jeff Bossert is Radio IQ's Morning Edition host.
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