National experts to Indiana for youth worker conference

INDIANAPOLIS – There are just two months left until the Indiana Youth Institute’s 15th annual Because KIDS COUNT® Conference (BKCC) presented by Pacers Foundation. It’s the Midwest’s largest annual gatherings of youth workers, mentors and educators. More than 1,600 people attended the conference last year. This year’s event will take place Tuesday, December 1 and Wednesday, December 2 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.   

The keynote luncheon speaker is Father Greg Boyle. Father Boyle founded Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the United States. Father Boyle is not what you might expect from a typical priest. He is a New York Times bestselling book author, recipient of the Civic Medal of Honor and the California Peace Prize. In addition, he serves as an advisor to many state and national committees on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.  

Other highlights of the 2015 conference include: 

•Opening keynote speaker Steve Pemberton, the chief diversity officer and divisional vice president for Walgreens. Pemberton will share his story of surviving foster care and working his way into success. Pemberton’s relentless journey to overcome his setbacks, find his biological family and right the wrongs of his parents’ past is a model for all families to follow. 

•Free community screening of the film “Girlhood,” sponsored by Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent. The film provides a first-hand account of two young women who committed crimes as adolescents and spent their teen years behind bars. Their stories will make for a powerful cautionary tale for young girls. The screening is on Tuesday, December 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. It will be followed by a community discussion with two conference speakers and Shanae Watkins, one of the women featured in the film. Please be aware this film is only appropriate for ages 13 and up, as there is cursing and adult themes throughout. Community members are encouraged to register for the free event at

•A “day in the life” poverty simulation, presented by United Way of Central Indiana, will show what it’s like for many children and teens who live in poverty. Attendees can assume the role of a low-income family member living on a limited budget. This will dramatically demonstrate how much time and energy many families have to use just to survive from day to day. 

•Dr. Donna Gardner will speak about the rising trend of mental health issues among children and adolescents. She will teach youth workers how to address the issues and equip young people with the tools they need to become emotionally resilient. 

•Jennifer Powers, author of the Amazon best-selling book, Oh, shift!, will give attendees a new perspective on changes they can make to model healthy and positive behaviors for the young people around them. 

•Dr. LaMarr Shields will focus on how to raise confident and competent girls. Those who attend his session will learn how to help girls with their self-esteem and how to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy relationships.  

•The Vectren Resource Center featuring nearly 100 exhibitors, all focused on products and services that support youth work and nonprofit organizations. 

•The Leadership Institute, a special set of workshops specifically for executive directors, board members and organizational leaders with nonprofits. Attendees will learn how to increase the sustainability of their organizations. The Leadership Institute begins on November 30 and runs through December 1. 

The Because KIDS COUNT® Conference presented by Pacers Foundation is intended for anyone who works with children including community leaders, youth ministers, educators, counselors and those who impact the well-being of Hoosier children. 

To register for BKCC, visit Indiana residents pay a discounted rate of $125 until November 16. After that, on-site registration will cost $175. Conference attendees may also attend the Leadership Institute for $25. Registration for the Leadership Institute alone is $125. IYI distributes vouchers to every community foundation and United Way agency in the state that can help off-set the cost. The cost for out-of-state residents is $275 plus an additional $50 to go to the Leadership Institute.    

To follow events, speakers and the progress of the conference, follow us on Twitter at #BKCC15. For more information, go to or contact the Indiana Youth Institute at 800-343-7060 or

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 WYRZ and Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at

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