The inaugural Pathways to Wellness Retreat, organized by Wilkes Community College in collaboration with the Alleghany Wellness Coalition, was a resounding success with a total of 45 attendees. The event was conducted on Friday, June 2, 2023, at the WCC Alleghany Center.

A variety of experts presented informative topics such as the effects of trauma on mental health, dementia care, supporting caregivers, youth challenges, fentanyl and NARCAN training, QPR (Suicide Awareness) training, and self-care techniques. Local providers also shared helpful resources. Attendees received certificates of completion for Enriching Mental Health with Complimentary Treatments, NARCAN and QPR training, and 5.5 CEU hours from Wilkes Community College. Thanks to the generosity of Vaya Health, BCBS, and local businesses, the event was free of charge and included breakfast, lunch, wellness bags, and door prizes for everyone.

WCC Vice President of Instruction, Kristen Macemore, stated, “According to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), one in five adults and one in six youth in the United States experience some form of mental illness every year. It is imperative that we all learn to recognize when someone is experiencing a mental illness, develop the skills to help them, and familiarize ourselves with local resources that are available to assist them. That, in a nutshell, is what you are going to learn today.”

“In addition, you will learn some fun and engaging self-care techniques because we want to teach you how to take care of yourself. We are all so busy taking care of others and all the responsibilities of life that we often neglect taking care of ourselves. The simple truth is, when we make the time to care for ourselves, we are mentally stronger, which makes the daily strains of life easier to manage. It also makes us happier people and increases our positivity about life. And we all certainly need that!”

After attending the event, Lauren Barricklow, a local resident, and community health worker for AppHealthCare stated, “I think everyone felt lighter, more knowledgeable, more connected to the community, and inspired to care for ourselves and each other in ways that are meaningful and interesting! I thoroughly enjoyed each session.”

WCC Alleghany Center Director, Wanda Beck said, “The responses from participants were extremely positive. The presenters were informative and engaging. We are so grateful for all the support that we received that allowed us to offer this informative event to our community at no cost. The planning committee has already reviewed the feedback we received and is looking forward to offering this event to our community again next year.”

WCC VP of Instruction kicks off the event.