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    Allison Kernan
    Allison Kernan
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    alternatives conference

    Hey everybody!
    I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2017 Alternatives Conference in Boston, MA!

    It was awesome to see familiar faces and presenters! This conference was unlike any others that I have attended because it had more engaging sessions. Not that I don’t like attending a lecture, but having an activity is much more exciting for me. I loved being able to network too! I tried to attend sessions that I was either unfamiliar with or didn’t know much of. It was actually kind of difficult to find that because a lot of the things I already knew because we are practicing them in CT already! This conference reminded me to stay grateful of what CT has to offer. Although we are facing a bit of a crisis when it comes to budget cuts and programs no longer able to be funded, we are still ahead of many other states. One woman I met was from the West Coast and she said that the idea of peer support is JUST STARTING to become DISCUSSED! She was frustrated that they are just beginning to TALK about the idea of peer support and was envious that CT is deep into the ACTION stage of peer support services! GO CT! The reactions of people being so impressed by all the different kinds of peer support services was interesting to me because I was sitting there thinking, “you guys have never heard of this?”… meanwhile CT has been doing it for years. So to all of my peer support people — KEEP GOING!

    One workshop that I had attended touched my heart in both a personal and professional way. It was titled, “Youth Peer Generation” and was developed for youth to create and design their own self-empowered system to support their journey. It started off with us sitting in a circle and doing some ice breakers. We then went into the presentation which was a hands-on activity. (MY FAVORITE!)… We then had to develop a plan that would help us reach a certain goal. This activity was tailored to the conference, but can be used for any goal that someone would want to achieve. It was a lot similar to the “wellness plan” that Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) teaches in the Recovery Coach Academy. I enjoyed this activity because I can not only apply it to my own life, but also when working with people. It was a fantastic way to make a goal become realistic and achievable, but most importantly it showed HOW to make it all happen and come together!

    One of the participants became emotional while sharing because she had been struggling with achieving a goal in her life because of physical boundaries she had been facing for years. This activity had given her the realization and confidence that she CAN achieve it!

    The activity was pretty simple. All you need is a pen and sticky notes or scrap paper. You start with a couple of main ideas, like “lose weight”, “build friendships”, and “find a church”. Then you separate your ideas into categories (it’s fine if some over-lap).. like “physical”, “mental”, “spiritual”, “professional”. Then you write ideas that can help you achieve these ideas, then write a positive affirmation for each one.

    When we were asked, “What are barriers or difficulties that you face or may face when achieving these goals?” people shared their barriers that opened my eyes to the same barriers that I face that I didn’t even realized were a boundary!

    For example, one person said, “I am my own road block.”

    MIND… BLOWN!

    How many times are YOU your own road block/barrier? I know for me, that is the case ALL the time! After this person said this, I realized that a lot of times I try to put blame on other barriers and forget to realize that the root of the discouragement is ME! Duh! Now, I’m going to start to recognize when I’m being my own barrier and start focusing on how I can be encouraged to continue towards my goal!

    There were two other things that people had said that had me stuck thinking about it for so long…

    “This work comes from not having it ourselves.” and “I want to be the person that young me needed to talk to.”

    These two quotes really hit my heart because it’s SO accurate to my passion in the work that I do. Throughout the conference I kept replaying those quotes in my mind and realized that it can apply to many different professional settings. It saddened me at first, but it also brought on a ton of encouragement and the boost I needed to continue in my path of working in the recovery field!

    Overall, the conference was wonderful! I definitely left feeling empowered and ready to bring ideas and things I learned to the table!

    So I ask you guys, are you ever your own barrier? Do you want to be the person that young you needed to talk to? Did you get into your work because you didn’t receive the help yourself?

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