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Taylor CAREs

Upcoming Vulnerable Children conference

By Emily Rachelle Russell | Echo

On Friday, Oct. 27, Taylor will host the CARE Conference, a one-day event with speakers, workshops and organizational exhibits focused on vulnerable children and viable communities.

According to Graduate Assistant Paige McCourt, the conference will begin with keynote speaker Beth Guckenberger of Back2Back Ministries in that morning’s chapel. Three breakout sessions with a break for lunch will follow, covering topics including adoption, refugees and immigration, child tracking, trauma-informed care and youth development. The day will end with a closing keynote speaker at 3:30–4:45 p.m.

One goal of the conference is to expose students to people doing work with orphans and vulnerable children in the real world, according to McCourt. The variety of speakers and topics will promote a holistic approach to caring for “the other” and help students determine where their vocations would best fit into working with vulnerable children. McCourt also hopes the conference will bring the focus on orphans, adoption and foster care.

Taylor will be hosting the CARE Conference for the second time this October. (Photograph provided by Pexels)

Taylor will be hosting the CARE Conference for the second time this October. (Photograph provided by Pexels)

“It gives (students) a sense of calling and a sense of vocation,” said associate professor of Psychology Scott Moeschberger. “They can envision themselves in certain roles . . . .Talking about refugees, or trauma, or adoption and working with vulnerable children worldwide, our students are really passionate about that and really want to envision how they can be a part of helping serve those in need.”

Taylor hosted a similar conference in the Kesler Student Activities Center in 2015. Moeschberger hopes to continue the event every few years in the future. The goal is to bring in speakers organized around one central theme to promote conversation and provide support and opportunities to students interested in and passionate about working with orphans and vulnerable children.

Bob Aronson, director and associate professor of the public health program, brings a prevention perspective to the conference. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, children who experience trauma, such as the loss of a parent, abuse or witnessing a person’s injury or death, have lower life expectancy and a higher risk of behavioral problems.

“It’s too hard, letting these kids grow up in these situations and then trying to correct it,” Aronson said. “There are systems and structures within society that produce these problems. We just want to feel good caring for the problems once they show up, but we don’t want to challenge the structures of society that produce problems. When people talk about social justice, it’s not about doing nice things for poor people. It’s about fixing the things in society that produce inequities.”

McCourt pointed out that the conference is for students from all majors. While a student with a degree in chemistry might not see an immediate connection to working with vulnerable children, this conference can spark conversations teaching students to use their passions in caring for communities and children.

Registration for the CARE Conference is available online on EventBrite and free to Taylor students and faculty. Registration will stay open through the day of the event.

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