Youth welfare advocates gather for conference in Natchez

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NATCHEZ — Children are the future, and several local and state leaders intend to ensure that future is bright.

The 27th annual Lookin’ to the Future Conference, sponsored by the Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, begins today at the Natchez Convention Center, 211 Main St.

The goal of the conference is to provide learning opportunities for those wishing to better child wellbeing in Mississippi.

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Judy Arnett, program administrator for the Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, said this year’s conference would include several speakers who will discuss the current state of child wellbeing in Mississippi.

“Anybody who is concerned about our children, youth and families would benefit from this conference,” Arnett said.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Advancing Best Practices across the Continuum.”

Registration for the conference begins at 9 a.m. today at the convention center. The opening plenary session begins at 1:15 p.m. with keynote speaker Freda Bush, board member of the Medical Institute of Sexual Health.

Bush has completed extensive research, and published several books, exploring how sexual activity affects youth.

Today, Thursday and Friday, the conference will feature workshops that tackle issues of alcohol use among Mississippi teens, human trafficking, dealing with trauma in the family, among others.

In the past, the conference has attracted more than 400 people from across the state.

“Our goal is to inform administrators, parents and state policy makers so we can enhance youth stability,” Arnett said.

The conference will close at noon Friday with a presentation by Derek Clark, a survivor of childhood abuse.

Admission for the three-day conference is $150, and includes a Friday luncheon catered by the Carriage House Restaurant.

“Anyone interested in the welfare of youth and families should attend this,” Arnett said. “Strengthening families in Mississippi is so important.”

For a full schedule of events, visit