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Resiliency leaders present at ‘Risky Business’ conference
May 10, 2013

Mount Vernon superintendent Pam Ewell, middle school counselor Jennifer Holub Tischer, local Community Resiliency Project organizer Mollie Marti, and Mount Vernon police sergeant Doug Shannon presented at the Risky Business Conference last week.

Mount Vernon shared its experiences in building resiliency at the 28th annual Risky Business Conference held at Iowa State University last week. The conference brings together adults and youth from Iowa and surrounding states to develop skills and increase knowledge of community youth development and the critical issues confronting youth and professionals who work with youth.

Mount Vernon's presentation was "Unintentional Terrorism: Braving the Issue of Teen Suicide Together." It was given by school superintendent Pam Ewell, Mount Vernon police sergeant Doug Shannon, middle school counselor Jennifer Holub Tischer, and Mollie Marti, leader of the local Community Resiliency Project. They were joined by KCRG news director Adam Carros.

Marti said the group was asked to share the experience of teen suicide from the perspectives of the school, crisis team, student support, media and the community.

After three teen suicides in Mount Vernon, the Community Resiliency Project was formed. Marti pointed out that the research-based resiliency model aims to "build resiliency by intentionally seeking to engage each child where he or she is, connect them with trusted adults, challenge them to grow, and enrich them toward wholeness."

The group talked about that model, and shared resources on the topics of school crisis response, suicide intervention protocols, media relations and community/ school partnerships.

Marti said it's important to share Mount Vernon's experience with others because although situations might be unique, "the process of recovery is universal."

She said the main messages the group hoped attendees came away with were that teen suicide is a community issue, not just a school issue, and that communities should "create partnerships between the school, police, media, local mental health providers, businesses and all community members ... to build community-wide safety nets to save and strengthen youth."

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