Pre-registration deadline closing in for statewide social work conference

 Social workers across the state still have time to register for the 30th Annual Spring Continuing Education Conference for Social Workers, a three-day event that represents the largest state-level continuing education conference for the profession.

The conference, which will be held at the Charleston Civic Center April 30 through May 2, will feature dozens of workshops, guest speakers and self-improvement seminars designed to help social workers and those in related fields network and develop skills, according to Sam Hickman, executive director of the West Virginia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

"We wanted to build a conference that keeps people from having to go to other states to seek their continuing education," Hickman said. "We also wanted to provide a nice, welcoming atmosphere that would encourage people to attend."

Pre-registration ends April 15, although people are still allowed to register at the door. Hickman said more than 700 professionals have signed up so far, and he expects roughly 1,300 to attend the conference.

Hickman said the NASWWV tries to bring innovative topics and seminars to its conference each year, and some of this year's topics range from rural and small town substance abuse to identifying dementia, informed consumerism, West Virginia military veterans and personality disorders. The conference will also feature a keynote speaker, Melissa Stockwell, the first female American soldier to lose a limb in active combat and the first Iraq War veteran to compete in the Paralympic Games.

Stockwell, who recently completed her residency in prosthetics, will deliver the address, called "From Baghdad to Beijing and Beyond" at 9 a.m. April 30. 

"Whether you're in direct practice or administration, or if you're involved in any facet of social service delivery, health care or behavioral health, you'll find interesting speakers and rewarding sessions at this conference," Hickman said.

In the past, workshop sessions have been three hours long, but Linda Stein, a social worker with New River Health in Fayette County and chairperson for the conference planning committee, said the committee decided to change the platform to include one hour, 90 minute and three hour sessions on related topics.

"We wanted to create sessions that gave people a taste of the topic without having to be in a three-hour session about that topic, and it's pretty exciting changing that format," she said. "We also felt it would be a very important change to make us more attractive and accessible to different generations and learners."

The conference will also offer certain evening workshops that are open to the public. Public sessions May 1 include "Can You Hear Me?," a workshop designed to teach poetry and writing for use in communicative healing,"Yoga-Inspired Wellness," and a showing of the documentary "Inequality for All."

"We try to balance a range of clinical topics while considering what social workers in this state are doing and what fields they're working in -— there are people working with youth, people working with families, with seniors, with grief and counseling, and we try to make sure we have a pretty diverse set of offerings," Stein said. "We try to be cutting-edge. We're one of the few conferences offering workshops on veterans, including some of the best practices for working with returning vets."

Fees for the conference vary. Costs to attend the full conference are between $145 and $182, one-day fees vary between $103 and $125, and two day fees are between $121 and $153. For more information, visit or call (304) 345-6279. 

Reach Lydia Nuzum at or 304-348-5189.

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