The consumer movement is alive and going strong! Last month, I had the opportunity to witness the energy and passion of this amazing movement at the 2011 Alternatives Conference in Orlando, Florida.  Over the course of three and a half days, the conference held nearly 90 workshops, more than 20 caucus sessions and a plethora of keynote speakers.

I learned so much and I was truly energized by the people that I met. Here are my top five takeaways from the conference:

  1. The youth movement: My colleague, Peter McGraw expanded on this topic in his blog post, but I too was profoundly impacted by what the youth are doing to make sure their voices are heard. Around the country, young adults ages 14 to 24 are getting involved in the movement to change their futures for the better. The youth were very visible at this year’s conference conducting workshops on how they are implementing recovery practices and peer-to-peer specialist training.
  2. Meeting consumers from around Texas: There were 42 conference attendees that we counted from Texas! We all gathered for a picture and brief meeting one evening and it was inspiring to hear what people are doing in their communities. Texas Group at Alternatives
  3. The history of the movement: As someone who has always been fascinated by history, I was particularly captivated by the stories that were told revealing how far the consumer movement has come. The stories were personal yet moving and showed the dedication people have had to advancing mental health and recovery!
  4. East Texas Coalition update: After we met with the Texas crew, Stephany Bryan gave us an update on how the Hogg Foundation is expanding its work in East Texas. I was not only moved by what Stephany had to say, but by the appreciation and positive feedback from members of the coalition.
  5. New technology sessions: There were a plethora of presentations on how to use new technology to fuel the movement and get the consumer voice heard. From online video to social media, there are many ways the movement is telling its story and spreading it virally. I loved hearing what others are doing and how we can apply those tools at the foundation.

Overall, I had a great experience at the conference and came back fired up about advancing recovery and wellness through the Hogg Foundation!