When your job is to take care of others, you sometimes put your own needs aside. The goal of the annual Youth First Conference is to equip human services professionals serving youth and families with the skills to help them recharge and renew themselves to be the best they can be. This year’s conference was held last Friday, February 8, at the Fredericksburg Expo Center, with more than 300 professionals from around the region in attendance and 61 vendors with services designed to enhance the work of the attendees. Conference goers enjoyed a keynote speech from Justin Patton, a national speaker and leadership coach, as well as a special breakout session with Dana Pulley, an expert in mindfulness.
“One of the best things about the annual Youth First Conference is that we have created a community of human services workers, one where they can connect and lean on each other in the work they do, day in and day out,” said Donna Krauss, Director of Human Services for Stafford County. “Stafford County is pleased to work with local officials and community partners to provide support and care to the professionals who in turn are doing the incredibly important job of supporting children and families in our region.”
The topic of Justin Patton’s keynote speech was “Bold New You,” which is also the title of his new book. Patton spoke about the work human services professionals do and how important it is to offset the stress of that work by working hard to radiate positive energy and using positive body language to interact with others. He emphasized the importance of the message we carry in our voices and body language and how significant it is to be aware of that.
Dana Pulley, of the Potential Project, spoke about taking the time to be mindful and to meditate in the midst of the day-to-day stress of jobs. She pointed out to the attendees that multi-tasking has been shown to reduce brain capacity instead of increasing it and that it’s crucial to give your brain time to recharge and relax to be the best you can be.
Stafford County hosted the Youth First 2019 with collaboration from the City of Fredericksburg; Rappahannock Area United Way; Rappahannock Area Office on Youth; Rappahannock Area Healthy Families and Spotsylvania County. The mission of the Youth First Partnership is “To build a stronger community by promoting collaboration amongst youth-serving agencies.” The conference is designed to be an annual venue to share resources and ideas and to promote communication and collaboration between agencies.
Each year, conference attendees participate in a service project. This years’ service project was FailSafe-ERA. FailSafe-ERA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to be the anchor in the community for individuals affected by incarceration to reach their goals, enhance family bonding and rebuild our communities.
|National Counseling Group|
|Platinum Sponsor:||Rappahannock United Way, Compass Counseling Services of NOVA|
|Gold Sponsor: ||Centra, Rivermont Schools & Bridges Treatment Center|
|Silver Sponsors:||Fair Winds, Rappahannock Area Community Services Board|
|Bronze Sponsors:||Behavioral Health Services of VA, Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, Harbor Point Behavioral Health Center, New Hope Treatment, Newport News Behavioral Health Center, Poplar Springs Hospital, Southstone Behavioral Health, Thriveworks Counseling and Coaching, Virginia Keys School, the Hughes Center|
|Bag Sponsor: ||Resilience Counseling and Social Skills Center|