What’s an Unconvention?

by Stars Training Academy   0 Comments

Several ideas come to mind when I’m asked this question. First of all, I’m convinced that services to youth and young adults require unorthodox, out-of-the-box approaches to be most effective. Today’s Transition Age Youth (TAY) programs cannot afford to be like their grandfather’s Oldsmobile or stodgy adult mental health programs. TAY programs need to be Unconventional.

The TAY UnConvention seeks to create a fun, learning community for TAY providers, peer advocates and service recipients that transcends the usual lines and silos of service-systems, generation gaps and regional differences. Rather than tap national experts and academics, the TAY UnConvention taps the considerable expertise and experiences of dozens of TAY programs and asks them to share their promising practices.

The upcoming TAY UnConvention in Carson, CA will pay special attention to the emerging role of peer advocates and youth mentors. Many TAY programs have integrated these staff into their programs in innovative ways, others have struggled with how to best recruit, hire, train and supervise them. This TAY UnConvention will be hosted by two outstanding youth leaders with lived experience; Malia Javier Fontecchio, the Stigma Discrimination Reduction Coordinator for Project Return Peer Support Network (PRPSN) and Lorne Wood, Peer Training Specialist for the Stars Training Academy.

Lastly, most progressive TAY programs hope to engage and empower youth by having them participate in their agencies’ governance and advocacy activities. While we seek to “bring the youth voice” to the table, seldom do we set a table that many youth would want to sit at. Mental health administrators and professionals tend to sit on their butts for incredibly long periods of time and speak in baffling streams of acronyms (MHSA may provide TF-CBT services to the SPMI – OMG!). The TAY UnConvention will be held on Friday, May 29, 2015 in Carson, CA (click here to register.) a welcoming, inclusive, fun and informative occasion to share ideas, network and move your bods. The discussion group topics will be selected by responses to our survey – please take a few minutes to add your inputs. Hope to see you there!

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