United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV) and Resilient Lehigh Valley (RLV) hosted their annual Hope and Healing conference on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at Lehigh University’s Iacocca Hall. The conference highlighted the rapidly rising need for mental health services across the nation and the critical importance of dealing with childhood trauma. During the conference, UWGLV announced its Youth Mental Health Innovation grant cycle, which will help the nonprofit learn from new partners about strategies and outcomes to support the mental health of young people. Through collective impact, UWGLV’s goal is to meet the growing need for mental health support and ensure more children, families, older adults and veterans have access to the critical services they need. The event was planned by an ad-hoc committee and was sponsored by Crayola and Lehigh County, with additional in-kind support from Lehigh University’s Graduate College of Education

RLV is a cross-sector, collective-impact effort that fosters hope and healing for Lehigh Valley youth, families, and communities through trauma-informed and culturally responsive practices and systems. The annual conference brought together more than 200 program directors, partner agencies and youth to examine national mental health needs and explore the importance of dealing with childhood trauma.

The conference included a full day of guest speakers and interactive breakout sessions, covering topics such as mindfulness, trauma basics, youth resiliency, cultural humility, QPR (question, persuade, refer) training, compassion resilience, positive childhood experiences, and engaging adults in youth resiliency.

This year’s keynote speakers were Dr. Meagan Corrado, owner and founder of Storiez, and Darian Colbert, founder and director of Cohesion Network. Other guest speakers included:

The conference was full of relevant takeaways, with a few key points standing out: building a community centered around resilience is imperative, as emphasized by Lehigh County Executive Phillip Armstrong. Regular mindfulness practice enhances mental health, as demonstrated by the Mindful Child Initiative’s mindfulness breaks. Support from local organizations is crucial, highlighted by UWGLV CEO Marci Lesko’s announcement of the Youth Mental Health Innovation grant cycle and the United for Mental Health campaign, which raised over $300,000 last year. Art therapy, showcased by keynote speaker Corrado’s paper mosaic activity, and practicing cultural humility, discussed in Liang’s breakout session, are vital for effective trauma support across different backgrounds.

The event united community members from different sectors and walks of life to inspire, build deep connections and create change. During Colbert’s closing keynote, he highlighted the hope, energy, engagement and passion each person brought to this year’s conference, which was further punctuated by a spoken word piece by Shae McPherson.  

For resources from Resilient Lehigh Valley to gain more awareness about trauma awareness and trauma-informed care, visit


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