April 7, 2016 -Holyoke- Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni kicked off this year’s Victims’ Rights Conference with introductory remarks this morning at Baystate Health’s Education Center in Holyoke. This year’s focused on: Building Resiliency in Youth and Communities. The conference is co-sponsored by the Hampden District Attorney’s Office and Baystate Health.
The conference is designed for physicians, nurses, law enforcement, mental health professionals, victim and witness advocates, social workers, educators, criminal and civil attorneys and community providers. It is intended to provide the audience with the tools and skills in recognizing the potential for resiliency in children.
Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni stated, “I am proud to co-sponsor this event to raise awareness around the effects that trauma has on children. As science transforms our understanding of trauma and how it affects the brain and its development, it is vital for us as a community to coordinate successful strategies that support children and families. We are taking steps here in Hampden County to break the cycle of victimization and empower our children to thrive.”
This year’s key note speaker was William Kellibrew, who presented, Life After Childhood Tragedy: A Survivor’s Pathway to Resiliency. On July 2, 1984, at age 10, William Kellibrew witnessed the murders of his mother, Jacqueline and 12-year old-brother, Anthony, by his mom’s ex-boyfriend in their family living room. The killer took his own life that day but not before making William beg for his life at gunpoint. Kellibrew struggled as a child, teen and young adult, but persevered to become a global leader on the issues he faced in his years of struggle including child sexual abuse, witnessing and experiencing violence and homicide along with a multitude of victimizations.
Many children and families face multiple barriers to a safe, healthy upbringing. Why do some people break free and thrive while others end up in a life filled with drug addiction, victimization, criminal records, poor health and low self-esteem? This conference will look at individuals and systems that work to support and educate children and families affected by trauma.