PORTLAND — Willo Wright, program director of Seeds of Independence and 2011 recipient of the Maine Judicial Branch Advocate for Justice Award, will be the first speaker in a USM Social Work colloquium series on promoting resilience and mitigating risk for Maine’s youth.

Wright’s presentation, followed by a round-table conversation on ways to empower youth, takes place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, in Room 102, Wishcamper Center, on USM’s Portland campus. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Jeanette Andonian at [email protected] or 780-4120.

This presentation is the first in a series designed to inform and foster critical discussion among professionals, students, families and the public on emerging issues and priorities for youth mental health in Maine. As government funding shrinks for public mental health services, we are faced with the challenge of determining how families, schools and communities can help foster resilience and mitigate delinquency risk, including substance use, among our youth.

Seeds of Independence (www.seedsofindependence.org) is a nonprofit, mentor and volunteer-based organization founded to help at-risk youth in Maine reach their full potential as independent, productive members of society. According to Wright, “Most of these initiatives are intended to help promote resilience and instill healthy psychosocial adjustment in youth. They’re also inexpensive; it only costs about $130 a year to work with each young person using mentor volunteers.”

Future colloquium topics include, “Successful Youth Transitions from Institutional Care to Community Support” on Friday, Feb. 28, and “Successful Transitions into Young Adulthood: Mental Health Needs of Young Adults” on Friday, April 11.

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