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HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Research Corp. is partnering with several statewide organizations to empower college student leaders in 10 southern West Virginia institutions of higher education with skills to assist their campuses and communities in preventing unhealthy use of substances, according to a news release.

The Spring Prevention Conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 2, virtually. It is the public kickoff event for student leaders that will also provide prevention skills and strategies for higher education faculty and staff, community coalition members and other prevention professionals working to address substance use prevention with young adults.

The conference is made possible through Marshall’s Collegiate Strategic Prevention Framework Partnership for Success Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant with support of partners including the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, West Virginia Bureau for Behavioral Health, West Virginia Collegiate Recovery Network, West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy, West Virginia Collegiate Initiative to Address High Risk Substance Use and the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute.

“We at the Higher Education Policy Commission are thrilled to support this conference and help extend it to faculty, staff and students at colleges and universities across the state,” said Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s chancellor for higher education.

“I’m looking forward to being part of this event, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to increase momentum around the prevention of substance misuse in our college communities and to increase support for mental and behavioral health on our campuses.”

Heather McDonnell-Stalnaker is the Collegiate Strategic Prevention Framework project director at MURC Center of Excellence for Recovery. The conference will address social determinants of health and how those factors affect prevention work with the first keynote speaker, Dawn Thomas.

The afternoon keynote speaker, Mary Roary from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will discuss her new role as the director of the Office of Behavioral Health Equity, as well as looking at “Culture as a Risk/Protective Factor of Behavioral Health.”

“I feel that this conference will promote the idea of prevention with intention and the importance of examining how health disparities impact prevention work,” Stalnaker said.

The goals for the Spring Prevention Virtual Conference are to increase participants’ knowledge about prevention’s role in addressing health disparities; provide participants with a framework to addressing prevention with young adults; and increase participants’ prevention skills.

“Prevention is a critical part of the continuum we need to offer on our campuses and in our communities,” said Susie Mullens, program coordinator for the West Virginia Collegiate Recovery Network. “Recovery support is an essential factor to build recovery capital and prevent a return to use. We are thrilled to be part of the conversation about the intersection of prevention and recovery.”

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