By Tricia Pursell

The Daily Item

LEWISBURG -- Following a school year filled with tragedy, nearly 100 community leaders gathered for a summit in Lewisburg on Monday and Tuesday, hoping to prevent repeats of a pair of bullying-associated suicides in the Midd-West and Line Mountain high schools.

"The goal was to bring community members from a variety of sources -- employers, schools, universities, law enforcement, county government -- to discuss the issue of prevention," said DiAnn Baxley, chief executive officer of Transitions, a Valley crisis center that hosted the event, "Healthy Relationships, Healthy Communities." It was held at Bucknell University.

"What's stopping us from being able to prevent violence?" she asked.

Discussions at the summit included the importance of improving and expanding coaching, mentoring and incentive programs and making it more comfortable for victims to report abuse and violence.

The groups, Baxley said, came up with good and realistic goals, and she hopes this year's summit was the first of many.

Jen Phillips, of the Susquehanna River Valley Dental Health Clinic, Sunbury, was one of the attendees.

"Empowerment is the key," Phillips said, "and that's at all age levels -- empowering children to stand up and empowering employees with education and training."

Myrna Wiegle, one of several representatives from the Youth Accountability Program of Snyder County, came especially to attend a discussion on school policing.

"I knew something had to be done," she said. "We know we want to protect our youth."

"Although there are never solutions to the problems," Wiegle added, "we're trying to put a dent in some of the problems that do happen."

Rather than each person working hard to reinvent the wheel, Phillips said, the summit gave key members of the community a chance to get together to discuss what they are doing in their individual organizations.

Attending was a "group of very experienced and very true professionals," she said. "I feel like what we discussed is going to be followed up on in our professions and our community."

"We can't do it alone," Baxley added. "We felt it was important to pull people together."

Transitions has offices in Union, Snyder and Northumberland counties.

• Email comments about this article to tpursell@dailyitem.com.

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