Guest Blog: Dr. Lorie Thompson on “Moving Forward Together”

Dr. Lorie Thompson is the Capital STEM Alliance Regional Network Director for ESD 113. 

In May 2023, the Capital STEM Alliance, opens a new window and Timberland Regional Library partnered to kick off Moving Forward Together, a twice-a-year virtual summit dedicated to sharing insights about post-pandemic social-emotional health issues affecting rural communities in the five-county Capital region.

The first summit, titled Mental Health in the Capital Region, opens a new window, provided an overview of some of the post-pandemic social and emotional issues experienced in our five counties. It began with a keynote address by Thurston County Commissioner Carolina Mejia, who presented data on youth depression, impacts on school attendance, and the increase in requests for mental health referrals. Following the keynote, a panel of mental health experts from organizations around the region offered their views and resources to address the top social-emotional and mental health issues affecting Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston Counties. 

After the panel discussion, participants were invited to join individual break-out rooms where they could ask questions and dialogue around specific topics, including where to find resources and programs to address trauma recovery, support justice-impacted youth, and find local mental health services for children, youth and adults.

Our second virtual summit in the series was presented on November 9, 2023, with the theme Student Engagement and Social-Emotional Health, opens a new window. As with the initial summit, keynote speaker Shelly Willis of Family Education and Support Services (FESS) shared regional data around student engagement trends during the past few years, and described the available supports offered through her agency and others in the region. 

A panel of mental health experts from Educational Service District 113 and community-based organizations Big Brothers Big Sisters and FESS, as well as from the Lewis County Juvenile Justice office, provided data about student disengagement in school and community, lack of school attendance, and increase in troubling behaviors. They also offered resources to address the underlying social-emotional issues involved in disengagement. Questions from the audience were encouraged.

For those unable to attend, each Moving Forward Together virtual summit was recorded and posted on both TRL’s and ESD113’s YouTube channels.

The third Future Moving Forward Together event is planned for April 2024. 

TRL Partners is a blog series featuring community contributors from around Timberland Regional Library's 5-County service area.