Friday, March 24, 2017

Free parenting conference simulcast at Windham Baptist Church by Elizabeth Richards

The Empowered to Connect Conference will be broadcast live at the Windham Baptist Church on April 7 and 8, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The two-day conference, held in Franklin, TN, is designed to help foster and adoptive parents connect with their children.

This is the second year the church is offering the opportunity for parents to come together to watch the two-day simulcast. Cindy Irish, who is organizing the event said, “Empowered to Connect deals with helping adoptive or foster parents be able to relate to and help the children that they have in their home, most of whom come from some kind of difficult situation.” 

Irish, who has five adopted children, attended the broadcast last year. She said the conference helps parents examine difficult behaviors they might be seeing in the home. “This conference helps you understand some of those symptoms, what that could look like, and how to help that child,” she said.

Lynn Briggs also attended the conference broadcast last year. She said that what she liked most was that presenters talked about the behavioral psychology, but put it into language that anyone could understand and included concrete examples. “More than anything, it gave me hope because it gave me strategies and things that I could take home and implement right away. It was such a gift. To gather together with other folks who are going through some of the same struggles that you do in trying to help and understand their children. It was wonderful,” she said.

The Empowered to Connect Conference features Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) methods developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. Experts will present sessions on a variety of topics, including “Children from Hard Places,” “The Brain Break,” “Hope and Healing for the Future,” “Creating a Safe Place,” and much more. The full schedule can be found at:
Though it’s best to attend both full days, Irish said people can benefit from attending on a single day. And though the primary target audience is foster and adoptive parents, many others could also gain something from attending; including counselors, teachers and behavior health professionals, according to Irish and Briggs. “There’s a lot that will benefit anybody,” Briggs said.

Although the conference itself is like watching a video, with no breakout sessions or structured time to talk with other participants, snack and lunch breaks provide an opportunity to network with other attendees.

The Windham Baptist Church had six families adopt from the same orphanage in Haiti, said Irish. This inspired the board to look for ways to support these families. “The church board could tell that this was a much needed and beneficial conference that could help a lot of people,” she said. Last year, they found out about this conference just a month before it occurred. They put together a simulcast quickly, and had about 30 attendees.  This year, the board decided they wanted to do it again, and get the word out to a wider audience, Irish said. 

Even those who attended before should consider returning, Irish said. Both Irish and Briggs said they will be attending again to revisit the important topics presented. Briggs said that she has had extensive training as a foster parent and educator, but nothing compared to this conference. “I have all of this education, and I came to this event and said, ‘if I had only known about this sooner’,” she shared. “Every year you could learn a little bit more,” she said. “I really hope people will take advantage of this opportunity.”

The simulcast will be held at Windham Baptist Church, 973 River Road in Windham, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 7th and Saturday, April 8th. The conference is free to attend, but there is a $10 fee for the workbook. Contact Cindy Irish at: to register.

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