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Past Connection Sessions

The Adolescent Health Initiative is proud to have celebrated eight years of our Connection Sessions.

We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had each year to bring together multidisciplinary communities of adolescent health professionals to cover pertinent topics in the field. Learn more about previous Connection Sessions below.

2023 Connection Session
Intersections: Supporting youth, their identities, and their mental health needs across disciplines

This event worked to increase adolescent health professionals’ capacity to support adolescents’ mental health needs through culturally responsive, youth-centered practices. The event supported attendees in developing actionable strategies around being an “askable adult” as it relates to mental health, acquiring community-centered resources, and building cross-discipline collaboration. Centering the voices of communities marginalized by systems of power was at the core of the event and equipped attendees to better understand mental health in the context of intersectionality.

Highlights included a spoken word youth performance by Tyshae Brady (she/they), a grounding activity with members from AHI’s Teen Advisory Council (TAC TAC) and Amorie Robinson (she/her) Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, and a Culturally Responsive Practices Panel with Anthany Beasley (he/him), MSW, LMSW; Avida Johnson (she/her), MSW, TIY (Trauma Informed Yoga Therapist), Chef; Jonathan Edwards (he/him), LMSW, Mental Health Therapist; and Brandie Schulz (she/her), LMSW, Clinical Social Worker. TAC TAC also premiered their video where they discuss the importance of adolescent mental health.

As a result of the 2023 Connection Session, AHI created a new Spark training, Principles of Trauma-Informed Care for Adolescent Patients, which is meant to deepen your understanding of how trauma impacts adolescent patients and show how to create trauma-informed spaces to support their health and well-being.

2021 Connection Session
Racial Equity in Adolescent Health Care: Developing an Anti-Racist Practice

The 2021 Connection Session, Racial Equity in Adolescent Health Care: Developing an Anti-Racist Practice, was the largest event in its six-year history, as nearly 300 interdisciplinary health care professionals convened to better understand the impacts of racism on adolescent health.

Highlights included a framing session by Jannah Bierens, MPH, MA, a session on Structural Racism and Adolescent Health by J’Mag Karbeah, MPH, Ph.D. Candidate, a panel discussion on the Impacts of Racism on Adolescent Health with Teresa Springer, MA, Dr. Veenod Chulani, and youth panelists Saida Abshir, Jessica Taylor, and Ashanti Campbell, and a strategy session on CARE NOT PUNISHMENT: Rejecting carceral logics as part of anti-racist practice, with Maria Thomas, MA, MPA.

As a result of this training, a majority of participants reported that they intend to make changes to their practice around developing strategies to address implicit bias and engage anti-racist principles. Following this training, there was a significant increase in attendees who reported that their ability to identify and develop actionable strategies to manage implicit bias and implement anti-racist principles in their professional practice grew as a result of the event. Similarly, many attendees reported that as a result of the event, their ability to explain the health impacts of racial inequities in adolescent health care for youth with intersecting marginalized identities increased.

The event also paid particular attention to accessibility, defined as the removal of barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, all aspects of the Connection Session by people with diverse abilities. Participants said that the event was “one of the most accessible sessions I’ve ever attended.”

2020 Connection Session
Practicing Adolescent-Centered Trauma-Informed Care in a Clinical Setting

The 2020 Connection Session, Practicing Adolescent-Centered, Trauma-Informed Care in a Clinical Setting, was designed for an audience of interdisciplinary health care professionals who serve adolescents, including physicians, nurses, social workers, health center managers, and other youth-serving community professionals. Speakers also represented multiple disciplines, each sharing strategies to paint a fuller picture about what it means to be trauma-informed with adolescent patients. The event was co-planned with youth representatives working to ensure that young people’s perspectives were centered in the work.

Highlights included a youth-led opening activity showcasing some of the ways youth are discussing trauma (hello, TikTok!), a compelling and practical keynote talk from Dr. Polly Gipson on You, Me and Transgenerational Trauma: Moving from Trauma-Awareness to Trauma-Informed Care, brief practice-based talks from experts in varied roles, and a case-based, interdisciplinary activity created in partnership with youth.

As an outcome of the 2020 Connection Session, AHI created a Timely Topics module, Trauma-Informed Care with Adolescent Patients, which is a web-based module that provides a brief outline of the impacts of trauma on adolescents and offers strategies for practicing trauma-responsive care in a primary care setting.

2019 Connection Session
Navigating Michigan’s Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Use

The 2019 Connection Session, Navigating Michigan’s Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Use, convened over 100 health care professionals to tackle complex issues related to Michigan’s new legalization of recreational marijuana.

The full-day conference sparked interdisciplinary dialogue in the effort to address attitudes, health education, and intervention approaches towards youth marijuana use. Dr. Leslie Walker-Harding, a leading specialist in adolescent medicine, joined us from the University of Washington in Seattle to begin the day with a powerful keynote address on marijuana use and its impacts on adolescent brain development. 

Moving from research into practice, Carrie Bourque (U-M) shared motivational interviewing strategies which target motivation and behavior change approaches for adolescent marijuana use. Youth perspectives were woven throughout the day, culminating in a reflective and thought-provoking panel discussion. 

Participants of the Connection Session demonstrated increased knowledge and understanding around marijuana bias, research, laws and regulations, and practice to holistically serve the youth they work with every day.