REPS’ Yampa Valley Wellness Conference returns Friday |

REPS’ Yampa Valley Wellness Conference returns Friday

If you go:

What: Yampa Valley Wellness Conference

When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23

Where: Sheraton Steamboat Resort, 2200 Village Inn Court

Cost: Free, $25 donation suggested

— The fifth annual Yampa Valley Wellness Conference takes place in Steamboat Springs on Friday, and will feature a trio of nationally known expert speakers.

Hosted by Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide with support from the Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation, the conference began in 2011 with a focus on suicide prevention, but has since grown into an event that focuses on promoting overall mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.

“It started out as a conference that really wanted to heighten awareness about suicide and suicide prevention, but it’s really morphed into this overall wellness conference,” said Barbara Gueldner, a REPS volunteer who is helping to organize the all-day event.

Friday’s keynote speakers are Catherine Barber, from the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, early-childhood education expert and Drexel University professor Debra Lawrence and Harvard professor Gaelle Desbordes.

Barber’s keynote talk is highly anticipated by those organizing the conference and will focus on how gun owners can play a role in preventing suicide.

While helping develop what would become the National Violent Death Reporting System, Barber observed that a large number of suicides occur during a same-day crisis affecting a person.

With this information in mind, Barber began to study a theory that putting distance between a person undergoing a crisis and highly lethal means, such as a gun, could end up preventing some suicides. Distance could mean that a gun owner going through a personal crisis stores their gun with a friend temporarily or that family and friends of an unstable person keep their guns locked up and impede access.

“If during a suicidal crisis what you have available to you is highly lethal versus less lethal, that does make a difference,” Barber said.

Barber said that keeping guns away from someone who could face a crisis will likely not be achieved through gun legislation, but instead through making it a part of the culture of gun ownership.

“It makes the most sense to me that this be a message that comes from the gun community to the gun community,” Barber said.

Barber kicks off Friday’s conference at 8:30 a.m. with her talk “Partnering with Gun Owners to Prevent Suicide.”

Other featured keynotes are titled “Early Childhood Education: What it Means for Every Child to be Resiliant” at 11 a.m. by Lawrence and “Compassion Meditation: How it Affects the Brain and the Body’s Stress Response” at 12:30 p.m. by Desbordes.

The conference is at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort and is free to attend, though a $25 donation is encouraged. Keynotes and breakout sessions will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an optional round table talk discussion with Lawrence from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Register for the event online at Blacktie Colorado or contact for more information.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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