“Healing Invisible Wounds” Conference Wins Gold from national Children’s Mental Health Campaign
August 25th, 2009
LEWISTON and PORTLAND — A group of multicultural Maine educators and health care professionals was recognized nationally with a 2009 Excellence in Community Communications and Outreach (ECCO) award July 31 in Anaheim, CA. The group’s Healing Invisible Wounds conference last fall celebrated resiliency in the face of trauma, and won gold for “Partnership Development” from ECCO sponsor, the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services Program for Children and Their Families.
Healing Invisible Wounds, based on a book by the same title, was a collaboration of the: Portland Schools Multilingual & Multicultural Center, Caring Across Communities Project (Portland), Thrive Initiative (Lewiston), The Children’s Initiative (Portland) and Maine’s Office of Minority Health. The conference drew 180 mental health and health care providers, educators, law enforcement and refugee resettlement workers, families and youth from Maine and the region.
“Seventy percent of conference presenters were racially and ethnically diverse,” says Arabella Perez, Thrive program director. “They used the the power of native language and indigenous healing practices to demonstrate the individual and collective capacity for resiliency and healing.”
From forced displacement to slave trading, holocaust, genocide, ethnic cleansing, civil war, combat, exposure to substance abuse, natural disasters, severe accidents, and all manner of domestic violence, most human beings experience trauma and its related stressors, either directly or indirectly.
“Our people (Passamaquoddy) were told our language was from the devil,” keynote speaker Allen Sockabasin says. Years later, he was in Germany listening to Germans speaking their mother tongue absolutely unconcerned whether non-native speakers understood them.
“I saw a smile in them,” Sockabasin says, “and, from that moment in 1970, I resolved to bring that smile back to my people.”
Sockabasin brought tears as well as smiles to the faces of conference goers when he sang “Amazing Grace” in Passamaquoddy. Other keynote speakers were Kana Enomoto, Acting Deputy Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and Nancy Carter, a leading mental health advocate for communities of color.
The ECCO Recognition Program is sponsored by the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services Program for Children and Their Families, Federal Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
THRIVE System of Care Initiative www.thriveinitiative.org helps providers and community organizations in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties transform the way services are delivered to children, families of children, and to youth who are affected by serious emotional and behavioral challenges. Thrive trauma-informed trainings and technical assistance are family-driven, youth-guided, and culturally and linguistically competent. The Thrive Initiative is a partnership of Maine’s Children’s Behavioral Health Division, Tri-County Mental Health Services, and SAMHSA in collaboration with local provider agencies.
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