That’s where I am at the moment, and no that’s not really what it’s called. The 24th Annual Children’s Mental Health and Research Policy Conference in sunny Tampa (Did I just name drop a location? You bet I did.) is a longstanding tradition amongst the Child Welfare and Mental Health fields, and a very positive place for system workers and families to get together to work on bringing forth change all across our country.
Alright, I’ve gotten the official statement out of the way. Now for why you oh reader, care about the CMHaRPiT (which I’ve dubbed the Conference for Really Awesome Stuff and I think is a little catchier and will require royalties on if it’s officially adopted). This conference is where it’s at if you want to find 6-800 professionals really digging for ways to help the youth and families that are their life’s work.
And that’s not sarcasm, people. They really bring to the table everything they’ve got. They discuss why youth not being socially isolated while in care is important. They talk about the need for mental health care for the parents as well as youth. They talk about the glossed over issues, essentially—-and then, they encourage one another to do something about it.
This transitioning youth was impressed.
I can best express it via a quote from a unique man who is probably on my top 1000 people ever, Geoffrey Canada.
"This country has gone as far as a country can go without taking our children with us." That one hit me after I took a moment to realize he was speaking to a room full of professionals, not youth. Brave and to the point.
If that doesn’t do it for you, he charismatically harped on certain current event issues—-such as the fact that our nation is forty bajillion dollars in debt* (*estimated, and also joking…it’s only 14.2 trillion as of this writing) and why that can’t be an excuse to pull resources away from educating or caring for the next generation.
"We cannot afford to balance our budget on the backs of our children…"
Nice. There was much clapping, much agreeing, but in the end what I want to tell you is that this place is a good place. Geoffrey Canada had the most rousing way of phrasing it, but these are common themes at this conference. They care.
Alright, so what’s the point other than "Chris went to Tampa and there were some people who said some stuff that was good and will be better if it actually turns into real results in the systems which Chris seems to believe will actually happen so maybe he’s been out of the system for too long and forgot his trusty cynicism lenses back home or better yet in the 15 feet of personal space he had back in the group home."?
By my count, at this conference, there were probably about 30 youth, counting myself. So that means 29 youth who weren’t even in ‘business casual’ outfits and doing the whole professionally acceptable masquerade. They were here, participating just a youth who are involved in the system. We’re being listened to, in big ways.
If you have something to say, now’s the time to say it. People are realizing it costs less money to help us out when we need it than to wait for us to be state or federal issues later.
They can hear us now.
Remember: Life is transition. And whether you’re miserable transition from cruising altitude (check the Sticks in Transition this week), or watching the ‘system’ make serious attempts at becoming something positive, your best bet is to go along with it. Make the most of it.