On Thursday May 18th, MASBHC held its 2017 Annual Conference, Building Linkages for Healthier Students. MASBHC was thrilled to occupy a new location for this year’s conference; it was held at The Meeting House in Columbia, Maryland.
Our keynote presenters were the founders of the Holistic Life Foundation, Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez. The Holistic Life Foundation is based in Baltimore and they use a comprehensive approach to help children develop their lives through yoga, mindfulness, and self-care. Their programs have been used as alternatives to suspension in Baltimore City schools and have been improving the mental health of students all across Baltimore. Holistic Life Foundation’s presentation, “Mindfulness for Whole Student Wellness”, focused on the benefits of mindfulness and meditation and how it impacts not only a student’s mental health but also their somatic health. Holistic Life Foundation’s keynote was extremely well received by conference attendees. MASBHC’s past keynotes have been more clinically based. This was the first time that the keynote had a mental health focus.
Prior to the keynote presentation, MASBHC welcomed Congressman John Sarbanes who provided opening remarks to attendees. Congressman Sarbanes has long been a supporter of school based health centers and his remarks enthused the crowd. Congressman Sarbanes expressed his support of school based health centers and his vision for healthcare overall. Thank you to Congressman Sarbanes for attending!
The rest of the conference agenda consisted of one morning and two afternoon breakouts with four different sessions held at each breakout. There were two sessions that highlighted the work of MASBHC initiatives, Hallways to Health and the Maryland Adolescent Health Collaborative. The sessions that were a part of the clinical health track focused on orthopedic red flags, oral health, health needs of LGBTQ adolescents, and asthma in schools. This year MASBHC also had a two part session that addressed the mental health needs of immigrant and refugee students: Building Linkages for Immigrant Students. The first session focused on trauma informed care/restorative practices and the second session focused on school based mental health methods and programs for the immigrant and refugee population.
As you may know, each year at the conference MASBHC recognizes a member of the community that has been integral in supporting school based health centers in Maryland. This year MASBHC recognized Senator Chris Van Hollen. While Senator Van Hollen, was not able to attend, he sent a video message to our attendees expressing his gratitude for his Apple Award and his respect and appreciation for all those working in school based health centers. Special thank you to Senator Van Hollen’s Deputy State Director, Karen McManus, for her attendance at the conference to accept Senator Van Hollen’s Apple Award on his behalf.
The MASBHC Annual Conference is a professional development opportunity that our attendees working in, working with, or working to support school based health centers looked forward to every year. MASBHC is already hard at work to host another great conference in 2018!
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