By: Mara Carlin, Coordinator of Coalition and Community Programs
On March 6, 2020, The Coalition for Healthy Communities and Wellspring Center for Prevention held the 16th annual Young Women's Conference, My Journey, My Voice: Empowering Young Women, at Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ.
A total of 140 10th graders from 12 High Schools in Middlesex County participated in a day filled with interactive workshops that provided students with opportunities to gain valuable knowledge and emphasized the importance of life and social skills. At the conclusion of the conference, the attendees were charged with returning to their schools to share the information with the rest of the student body through different programs and/or events.
The day began with Keynote speaker, Michellene Davis, Executive Vice President, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health. Ms. Davis opened the day with a powerful "TED"-like talk about leadership, self-confidence, and turning adversity into opportunity.
Ms. Davis was followed by a series of workshops that covered topics from mental health, dating safely, substance misuse education, media literacy and human trafficking. These engaging workshops allowed the young women to work through topics together and apply them to their own lives. After the workshops, the attendees were energized and enthusiastic.One student said, "Mental Health is a problem in my school with my friends, now I know there are resources available and where to get help."
After the workshops, attendees were treated to a delicious lunch which was sponsored by the Middlesex County Municipal Alliance program, the opportunity to visit 20 resource tables from county coalition partners, a photo booth donated in part by Insideoutbooth.com, and a photo frame contest, which was judged on 3 categories: school spirit, most inspirational, and most creative.
The conference concluded with a workshop by Susan Favale, owner of Honor Yoga in North Brunswick that focused on yoga, mindfulness, and stress management.The attendees practiced mindfulness, living in the moment, and were able to experience crystal singing bowls.It was a perfect way to end another successful Young Women's Conference.
The Coalition for Healthy Communities would like to thank all of our partners, committee members, and sponsors, including the Middlesex County Division of Addiction and Mental Health Planning, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of Women's Health, the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Garden State Community Bank, Central Jersey Family Health Consortium and Penn Medicine-Princeton Behavioral Health; our wonderful staff and YWC Committee members and most importantly the schools that sent students, for once again making this year's conference the best yet.
Winners of the photo frame contest: