Wheeling Human Rights Commission Talks Future Training Sessions

The city’s Human Rights Commission set a date for upcoming mental health training and discussed a possible additional training session at its meeting Tuesday.

The commission will hold a day of Mental Health First Aid training on May 13 with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, of Greater Wheeling, Commissioner Rosemary Ketchum announced.

The training, designed to prepare people to handle mental health crises, will occur at West Virginia Northern Community College’s Education Center and can serve up to 35 people. Nine spots are reserved for commissioners, and Ketchum said she hopes other spots can be filled by city officials.

“If we know other city officials who are interested in taking the training, I think that would be a focus as well,” Ketchum said.

Next, Ketchum will work to send invites to fill the 35 spots. Commissioner Rita Gupta also suggested that the training be made available to interested people who cannot afford it.

“My personal preference would be that the slots be filled with people who were prohibited financially from being able to participate,” Gupta said.

Commissioners also discussed a potential training regarding incarceration and how people handle life after prison. Betsy Jividen, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Corrections, offered to provide a training on the matter to the body, Commissioner Karen Kangisser said.

“It’s burgeoning in America, a long-ignored crisis of re-entering society,” Commission Chairman Frank Calabrese said. “We’re going in the right direction. I would like to see (training) happen every month if it can.”

Several commissioners expressed interest in such a training, and now Kangisser will report back to Jividen to organize it.

“I think the trainings are particularly effective at advancing knowledge,” Ketchum added.

Also at the meeting, Melissa Thompson, community development specialist, reported that the commission exceeded its goal of education and outreach hours served in the past year. Commissioners served 55.5 hours out of 33.75 hours promised.

Commissioners also discussed attending upcoming events. Several members expressed interest in attending the Fair Housing Conference in Clarksburg on April 30.

In addition, Ketchum noted that the Ohio Valley Pride Festival is set to occur May 11 and that commissioners are welcome to table at the event.

Calabrese said he tentatively plans to attend.

“I looked around Wheeling and, for a city of its size, we do very well in terms of all the organizations that get involved in our community,” Calabrese said before adjournment. “I think it’s remarkable compared to what some cities do.”

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