The Positive Change Conference for this year is set to be a fully virtual experience and is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 28. 

During the late 1980’s, the Lancaster County Drug and Alcohol Commission (LCDAC) began an annual county-wide conference for school Student Assistance Program teams, as well as a Prevention Forum for the community in 1990. In 2005, Compass Mark began organizing the events and five years later, the two events merged to create the “Positive Change Conference.” The event then moved to Millersville University in 2018 to allow an expansion of space for the addition of student learning opportunities. The conference is made possible by Compass Mark and Millersville University’s partnership and is supported by the Lancaster County Drug and Alcohol Commission.

Compass Mark’s mission is to prevent addiction through education, skill-building, and community mobilization. Their services are predominantly contributed to Lancaster, Lebanon and Chester Counties, but this year they hope to have attendees from a larger area span due to the accommodations of the conference being virtual.

“The Positive Change Conference is an annual event that has been taking place for more than a decade, but offering it to the community in a virtual format is definitely a first,” Eric Kennel, the Executive Director of Compass Mark, said. “The conference is always a much anticipated day of information sharing, networking, and collaboration.. and we are grateful for the continued support of our amazing partners at Millersville University and more than a dozen conference sponsors.” 

The theme for this year is Collective Restoration, which will communicate major changes to the ways that helping professionals work with their clients and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening keynote will be by Dr. Susan Tarasevich, Ed.D and is titled, “Creating a Healthier Normal in the Time of COVID-19.” The closing keynote speaker is Kristin Varner of the Dauphin County Drug and Alcohol Program and she will explore Staying Connected Through Uncertain Times, which involves people in addiction recovery and their needs.

“Throughout our communities, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing significant increases in substance use, problem gambling, and mental health concerns,” Kennel said. “Our goal for the conference is to provide up-to-date information about effective prevention and treatment strategies in this changing environment, as well as to support and encourage professionals on the front lines of service delivery.”

Attendees may include social workers, educators, addiction and mental health counselors, probation officers, students, and community members who want to learn more about issues relating to addiction and mental health and how people and organizations in the community are working to address this crisis. There are continuing education credits available for PCB, Social Work, and Act 48. 

The conference coordinators for this year are Deborah McCoy from Compass Mark, Dr. Bertha DeJesus from Millersville University and the rest of their planning committee. After having 266 people in attendance in 2018 and 341 in 2019, the committee is hoping for a jump to 500 guests this year.

The topics that will be covered and discussed include:

  • Trauma-informed schools
  • Addiction treatment during COVID-19
  • Addiction counselor self-care
  • Online SAP relationships
  • Worship-based prevention
  • Online gaming loot boxes
  • Addiction treatment with young adults
  • Stress and the brain
  • Addiction recovery in uncertain times

Listed below is the virtual agenda for the conference. 

Networking/ Vendors and Sponsors (7:00 a.m.)

Opening Remarks (8:00 a.m.)

Opening Keynote Susan L. Tarasevich, Ed.D. – Creating a Healthier Normal in the Time of Covid-19 (8:15 a.m.)

Break/ Vendors and Sponsors (9:30 a.m.)

Breakout Workshop #1 (6 options) ( 9:15 a.m.)

Break/ Vendors & Sponsors (10:30 a.m.)

Breakout Workshop #2 (5 options) (10:45 a.m.)

Lunch on your own/ Networking/ Vendors & Sponsors (11:30 a.m.)

Breakout Workshop #3 (6 options) (12:30 p.m.)

Break/ Vendors & Sponsors (1:30 p.m.)

Breakout Workshop #4 (6 options) (1:45 p.m.)

Break/ Vendors & Sponsors (2:45 p.m.)

Closing Keynote Kristin Varner BA, CRS – Staying Connected Through Uncertain Times (3:00 p.m.)

Closing Remarks & Evaluations (4:00 p.m.)

Conference End (4:15 p.m.)

Attendees will join virtual Zoom rooms to learn about the services in education and addiction treatment being discussed. Anyone may leave and come back to each Zoom room and switch to other rooms at any time.

The fee to take part in the conference is $25. Millersville University students, faculty, staff and OWEP do not need to pay. All who attend will also receive a Conference Care Package in the mail. 

Conference registration is open until Oct. 20 at 5:00 p.m. For general registration, click here. Registration for Millersville University students, faculty, staff, and OWEP can click here.

For additional information on the conference, visit Compass Mark’s website.

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