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Conference in Memory of Sandy Hook Victim to Address Violence Prevention
The parents of Ana Marquez-Greene, one of the 20 first-graders who lost their lives during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly a year ago, have announced plans to convene a conference in their daughter's memory on the University of Hartford campus.
The program, “Love Wins,” is a day-long conference for those concerned with mental health and community well-being to help build connections that prevent and cope with trauma. It will take place on Monday, Dec. 2, in Lincoln Theater.
Ana's parents are University alumni Nelba Marquez '97 and Jimmy Greene '97, a well-known jazz musician. Both attended The Hartt School.
The conference is the inaugural initiative of The Ana Grace Project, and is designed to “promote love, community and connection for every child and family,” and a day dedicated to honoring Ana Grace.
Nelba Márquez-Greene and Jimmy Greene have dedicated themselves to creating real solutions to the kind of violence that took their daughter’s life. They have developed The Center for Community and Connection in partnership with the Klingberg Family Centers as a transformational initiative of The Ana Grace Project to identify the most effective ways to build community and interpersonal connection to prevent violence and promote recovery. The Center aims to accomplish this objective through research, practical tools, professional development and public policy.
The Center was the inspiration of Nelba Márquez-Greene, a licensed marriage and family therapist employed by Klingberg Family Centers. Nelba Márquez-Greene and Jimmy Greene "believe that love and community are the antidotes for violence and are spurred on not only by their loss but by their faith and the belief that it is always best to 'Overcome Evil with Good,'" according to the organization’s website.
The "Love Wins" Conference
The program on Dec. 2 will feature Bruce Perry, MD, PhD, as its keynote speaker and is a collaboration of the resources of Western Connecticut State University, Central Connecticut State University, the University of Hartford, Klingberg Family Centers and Stanley Black and Decker. Perry is the senior fellow of The Child Trauma Academy, a not-for-profit organization based in Houston, Texas, and adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.
The cost to attend the day-long conference is $150. CEUs will be available for teachers. For additional information and to register, visit the conference website.
The program will include a workshop on Creating Compassionate Communities by Christopher Kukk, which will address weaving compassion into the fabric of learning (schools) and living (cities and towns) communities, drawing upon ideas from neuroscience, psychology, evolutionary biology, economics and other social sciences. Dr. Kukk is professor of political science at Western Connecticut State University and founding director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation.
A session to be led by Alice Forrester will describe New Haven’s efforts to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences using a two-generational approach. Participants will discuss how collaboration and grassroots activism can impact children and families facing mental health challenges. Dr. Forrester is the executive director of the Clifford Beers Child Guidance Clinic in New Haven, a community-based, mental health center for excellence for the treatment of children and families. She was appointed by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy to sit on the Sandy Hook Commission and has served as the project director of two National Child Traumatic Stress Network grants.
Additional session topics will include the human cost of unmet mental needs in our cities, "Mental Health First Aid," "Circle of Security Parenting," and "Teaching and Learning with Compassion."
Conference participants will learn about and contribute to best practices in building community and interpersonal connections to prevent violence and promote recovery. Organizers anticipate that conference outcomes will contribute to a shared body of knowledge for community members, parents, and professionals to create their own roles in building connections that “will enable love to win.”
The program will also include presentations by Steven Girelli PhD, president & CEO, Klingberg Family Centers; Bryan Gibb MBA, National Council of Behavioral Health; Deborah McCarthy, OT, Mindfullness Collaborative for Youth and Schools; Adi Flesher MEd, Garrison Institute; Isabel Pacheco Logan LCSW, Office of the Public Defender; Keith Gaston MSW, Village for Families and Children; Charlie Slaughter MPH, RD, Department of Children and Families; Geoffry Scales, Hartford Juvenile Probation; Karl Koistein, LCSW, Department of Children and Families; and Iran Nazarrio, COMPASS Youth Collaborative.
There will also be a performance piece about gun violence by Janis Astor del Valle and Lara Herscovitch, and a performance by the Connecticut Children’s Chorus.
Founded in 1903, Klingberg Family Centers is a private nonprofit charitable organization offering an array of treatment programs. The organization’s programs are designed to serve children and families whose lives have been affected by trauma in its various forms, family difficulties, and mental health issues.