It’s National Prevention Week and we at Makin’ It Happen wanted to find a story of hope being a protective factor in the lives of youth. We didn’t need to look much further than our friends up north with the Up Conference.
The 2021 Granite Youth Up Conference is coming up on May 20th. Makin’ It Happen checked in with our pal Greg Williams from North Country Health Consortium who is working with youth from across the North Country to put on this inspirational event for youth from the North Country and across the state.
The Up Conference started about five years ago. Greg was working with youth some of whom were disadvantaged and at risk at the North Country Charter Academy. It was tough to see the suffering some youth were experiencing. Greg worked with some youth from the Academy on a project related to opioid crisis. Many of the youth Greg was working with were directly impacted by the opioid crisis. The premise of the project Greg worked on with the youth was not to have the adults do prevention work rather the youth spread positivity and provide them the tools to do so. The group came up with the concept of the Up Conference and Greg was willing to be the caring adult to provide support to the youth leaders putting the conference on.
Greg said of the working with youth to put on the conference that “we tried to stay out of their (youth) way but also build the platforms for them to spread positivity throughout the North Country” explain that “in an area that’s struggling and dealing with the negative this is a way for youth to fight that by spreading positivity”.
The first conference was a great success and it has continued to grow over time! The conference started at around 100 youth but at the last in person conference held at the Mt. Washington Hotel over 300 youth attended. The conference happens twice a year in the Fall and Spring. The goal is to start the year out with hope and end it on a hopeful note .
In 2020 the conference had to become virtual because of the pandemic however many youth attended and were inspired in the Spring by the Story of Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor and mental health activist, who appeared as a guest speaker at the conference. In the Fall of 2020 basketball star and recovery advocate Chris Herro inspired the young people attending the virtual conference.
This spring will be no different! This year’s virtual conference will be focused on following your dreams. Professionals that are at the top of their industry will be talking with youth about how they followed their dream, worked hard, and achieved their goals. Many youth have really struggled this year as a result of the pandemic and other issues hopefully providing them a space to connect with each other and inspirational individuals will give them a boost and positivity to take with them over them Summer.
Youth are encouraged to tune into the conference live on May 20th at 11:45 AM here http://stream.phlume.com/up2021/ as well as sign up Learning Collaboratives here. The Learning Collaboratives will be a time for youth to connect with each other and learn from an adult that followed their dream.
Folks are also encouraged to follow the Up Conference’s Instagram page @NHUPCON for daily, positive posts every day leading up to the conference. They can also access information about the classes and conference through the NHUPCON Instagram page.
If you have questions about the conference get in touch with Greg Williams at [email protected].