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Willo Wright to Present on Mitigating Risk for Maine’s Youth

Photo of Willo Wright

Willo Wright, program director of Seeds of Independence and 2011 recipient of the Maine Judicial Branch Advocate for Justice Award, will be the first speaker in a CMHS colloquium series on promoting resilience and mitigating risk for Maine’s youth.  Wright’s presentation, followed by a roundtable conversation on ways to empower youth, takes place from 3-4:30 p.m., Friday, January 24 in Room 102, Wishcamper Center, on USM’s Portland campus. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Jeanette Andonian at andonian@usm.maine.edu or 780-4120.

This presentation is the first in a series designed to inform and foster critical discussion among professionals, students, families and the public on emerging issues and priorities for youth mental health in Maine.  As government funding shrinks for public mental health services, we are faced with the challenge of determining how families, schools and communities can help foster resilience and mitigate delinquency risk, including substance use, among our youth.

Seeds of Independence is a nonprofit, mentor and volunteer-based organization founded to help at-risk youth in Maine reach their full potential as independent, productive members of society. According to Wright, “Most of these initiatives are intended to help promote resilience and instill healthy psychosocial adjustment in youth. They’re also inexpensive; it only costs about $130 a year to work with each young person using mentor volunteers.”

Wright began her work with youth many years ago as a volunteer at Portland’s Center for Grieving Children and her advocacy efforts expanded as she realized her passion for helping youth at risk for substance use and juvenile incarceration. She has served as a guardian ad litem, first for the Portland District Court and later for the state of Maine. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and women’s studies from Goddard College.

Future colloquium topics include, “Successful Youth Transitions from Institutional Care to Community Support” on Friday, February 28 and  “Successful Transitions into Young Adulthood: Mental Health Needs of Young Adults” on Friday, April 11.