I thought I would do a blog, updating my time in the USA.
Day 1 - Cincinatti
Ask Me Who I Am - Youth Conference
With day one started, we are off to the Ask Me Who I Am - Youth Conference. http://askmewhoiam.wix.com/askmewhoiam
Weather is rather bleak, with rain and winds looking to have set in for the day.
We are off to watch our friend Kevin Hines deliver his session on The Art Of Living Mentally Well.
After in to the conference registration, we head to sit with Kevin at a near table in the venue.
Having no idea on the structure of the conference and the day planned, I was rather surprised when Kevin told me I would be co presenting with him, on the art of living well (wellness). I was nervous at 1st, although I don't mind speaking in front of people, but being the 1st time delivering in front of Kevin (not that he would judge) I felt a little nervy.
I picked up the back half of both sessions - firstly the adult mental health workers and community organizations, and spoke of the key areas in my life I focus on if I want to stay well.
Having lived my entire life with severe mental illness and suicidal ideology almost every day, living my life at a decent level with professional sport - I must be doing something right in order for me to think the way I think & feel the way I feel & not let the negatives of wanting to end my life on a daily bases, control my everyday actions. This is why my sessions on managing the Enemy Within is beginning to make waves in the suicide prevention space. I spoke of the key areas I focus on, every single day - to enable me to, do things like - sit & deliver to major boards of companies, speak in front of thousands of school students & conferences - on a daily basis. I deliver my messages of hope and hit home that living with mental illness doesn't have to define who you are!! Everyday practical living, that anybody can do. The practical living of how the world used to function before things like social media, tv or video games. This type of practical living, brings us back to our core values - these values I live with everyday.
The sessions were a huge success and were impacting on many of the students.
That evening, we fly from Cincinatti to Chicago for the American Association Of 2016 conference.
Having recently been in the states and at the #NatCon16 conference in Las Vegas a little under a month ago - the 'Aussies from TeamRipple' (feature documentary Suicide:TheRippleEffect) became quite a hit - so we had many contacts and new friends in the Mental Health & Suicide Prevention space already in America - and was great to catch up with a few friendly faces again.
Time to get ready for the conference and spread the news of the work I do back home in Australia.
The main session I had marked for the conferences was, 'Lessons learned in working with Native Americans' - I was so excited to sit and learn about our 1st nations brothers and sisters from the Native Americans on the ground.
In honesty, it looks as tho Native American communities in the ground over here are leading the way, likely because of funding (huge diff in our govt back home).
We sat through a session, hearing of how communities get funded $200,000US per year over 5 years (1 million US$) for empowerment programs that are used for suicide prevention & reduction. The government has already funded 42 communities in diff states, and just announced money for another 50 to be funded on top. So many positive stories, and many changes happening which is great.
Day 3 in Chicago saw a meeting with an alternative learning school - which develops a non curriculum approach to learning; where they encourage learning, but in ways that suit the young person in order for them to achieve success. I have coordinated many youth programs in my time and my delivery and structure fitted perfectly to their setting with using, sport, exercise & nutrition to further their educational needs. Some may ask, how can these type methods help with education. Well on 2 levels, the physical exercise, health & nutrition helps the brain function the best it possibly can. Healthy meals, help with concentration levels and by doing the physical fitness components, the students are not as agitated in class, and by the time it comes to the evening, their bodies need the rest, so an early night with plenty of sleep it is...
We continued our meeting and finished with possibility of coming back to introduce the program frameworks, I have delivered into their school. This was another direct crossover to how Aboriginal & Torres Strait islander people learn back home - oral, practical learning, being shown by mentors (elders) rather than being sat in a classroom and told to copy chapters outve a text book. The very learning my people have been taught for 60,000 years - Very cool!!
Today was the very 1st time I walked around the streets in the snow. I have been to snow fields in the past, but never seen it snow in a town and walked around in it.
Tonight both Kevin and I are off to New York, where we will deliver sessions to youth for the day then on to our next location!! So many positive things happening - busy but having a ball.
Finish today in saying, The Australian government often looks to America as its big brother, well maybe they should look into the way they fund mental health programs - alcoholism and drug addiction is also a part of mental illness.
We should spend more time and resources in managing these peoples mental illness, rather then lock them away with drug & alcohol issues, where it's not treated..
Tell me what makes more sense???
Cincinatti & Chicago you've been awesome - New York, see you real soon..