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District Attorney's Office Annual STRIVE Conference
12:05PM / Monday, March 28, 2022
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office’s annual STRIVE Leadership Conference on March 31 will focus on youth mental health and wellbeing, inclusivity, and anti-bullying.
The District Attorney’s Office Youth Advisory Board organizes and hosts the annual event for eighth-grade students from schools throughout the county as they prepare to enter high school. This year’s theme is "Courageous Conversations."
"Despite its ubiquitous impact on our lives and community, the concept of mental health is still foreign to many students in the Berkshires. The Youth Advisory Board is taking the first steps towards helping students have difficult conversations concerning their health and that of others so that they are better prepared to advocate for themselves in high school and beyond," Benjamin Heim, Youth Advisory Board chairman and Lenox Middle and High School senior said. "We hope this conference sends a message to any student struggling with their mental health that they are not alone and there are people out there they can talk to without judgment."
The keynote speaker is "Scott" from Minding Your Mind; a national non-profit organization focused on ending stigma and destructive behaviors associated with mental health issues and moving away from crisis-based responses to prevention through education.
According to a press release: As a teenager, Scott became extremely self-conscience about his image. He struggled to pull himself out of the self-hatred and negativity that filled his mind throughout college, and the issues only grew. He learned how to incorporate positivity into his life and the tools for self-security. He shares his stories to inspire other teenagers who are beginning to feel the same pressures.
The Youth Advisory Board will share the training they received as board members from the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate curriculum and moderate breakout room discussions. District Attorney Andrea Harrington will provide opening remarks.
The STRIVE Conference will be virtual for the third year in a row. It begins at 8:20 a.m. and ends at 11:30. STRIVE stands for Students Teaching Respect Integrity, Values, and Equity. 
"I thank the District Attorney’s Office’s Youth Advisory Board for their hard work in organizing this conference. The STRIVE Leadership Conference provides an opportunity for my students to learn from each other and recognize that even though their peers may go to different schools, they face the same challenges," Reid Middle School Guidance Counselor Kristen Shepardson said. "This year’s theme is timely and important as the eighth-grade students are beginning their journey to high school. They are starting to find their place in this world; developing the skills to engage in courageous conversations with their peers will help to support one another now and in the future."
The Massachusetts State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force funds the annual conference.
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