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Vinfen and DMH Host Transition Age Youth Conference

TAY Conference 2016Vinfen was honored to sponsor and attend the Massachusetts’ Department of Mental Health’s Northeast Area Transition Age Youth (TAY) Conference “The Ins and Outs of Transition”  on June 24 at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center. The conference was an all day event focused on initiatives and services helping young people transition through pathways that lead to long term stability, community housing, positive relationships, and employment. Human service organizations involved with TAY from across the state attended to discuss options and resources available.

President and CEO Bruce Bird, PhD opened the conference by thanking partner organizations and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. He began with a brief overview of the Transition to Independence (TIP) program offered by Vinfen. “We are listening to our young adults and they are telling us what they need.” His words set the tone for the conference, which focused largely on the expertise and experiences of Peer Mentors and Specialists freshly out of training.

The event featured a keynote address from Kim Bisset EdD, of Radiate Career Consulting. Kim holds a doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and has worked at Action for Boston Community Development and Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Kim focused on supporting young adult lives through strengths-based and life affirming methods. She provided the audience “partnering” exercises and strategies which allow young people to be mentored through and lead in transitional situations.  She also spoke about Gathering Inspiring Future Talent training (GIFT), a program offered by Vinfen, that focuses on strengths-based job training and prepares young people for Peer Mentor careers.

Following the keynote, a panel session was held to discuss “What is Available for Transition Age Youth?” featuring Vinfen Youth Leadership Coordinator Jennifer Stultz and Vinfen TIP Facilitator Matt Griffin.  Each panelist discussed the services available for transition age youth, though an important theme emerged during questioning on employment transitions especially into peer roles and how the program builds through positive mentorship. Ms. Stultz said of the Vinfen Youth Leadership program, “It is the most unique program in the state. The few organizations that use the TIP model use different techniques to reinforce transitional youth development and help them complete life goals without judgment.”

In the afternoon four breakout sessions engaged the practical aspects of transitioning from high school to work or college and ways in which to work with young adults.  The conference expanded the service menu for many of the staff and professionals present and provided a significant platform for inputs from recently transitioned peer counselors.