Please note that there are two different conference venues:
June 14/15 - Century City Conference Centre
June 16 - Kirstenbosch Conference Centre (transportation available)
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Thursday, June 15 • 09:30 - 11:00
Invited Symposium: Supporting Resilience Among Youth in Communities facing Ecological Challenges in the United States, Canada, and South Africa - Joy D. Osofsky, Howard J. Osofsky, Michael Ungar, Mark Tomlinson

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Invited Symposium Summary
Supporting Resilience Among Youth in Communities facing Ecological Challenges in the United States, Canada, and South Africa

Presenters: Joy D. Osofsky, Howard J. Osofsky, Michael Ungar, Mark Tomlinson
A multidisciplinary group of researchers and community and industry partners are studying the resilience of young people and the systems with which they interact to sustain and nurture resilience. The collaborative project includes six communities, two in Canada, two in South Africa, and two in the United States. With its international representation, the collaborative will deepen the understanding of resilience in contexts where there have been catastrophic climatic events. The challenges experienced in the three regions impact significantly on ecological systems, with social, economic, and environmental components and affect the health and well-being of youth. It is crucial to identify and enable processes that protect young people’s health and foster resilience while moderating or eliminating those that have a negative influence.  The overall goal of the symposium is to share knowledge on how young people adapt and develop their patterns of resilience to support positive outcomes.  The symposium will enhance a broader understanding of the social and environmental determinants of healthy development and interdependent systems that influence resilience in mitigating the negative impacts of disaster and climate change.

Invited Symposium Abstracts
Supporting Child and Adolescent Resilience Following Disasters 
Joy Osofsky (LSU School of Medicine, USA)
Introduction: Each year, over 175 million youth are impacted by disasters and, while children are extremely vulnerable, they often receive insufficient attention. Children are impacted by displacement, loss of homes, and separation from families and community. Response and recovery for children after catastrophic events depends on degree of exposure, previous trauma history, age, gender, and most important, support provided by family, school, and community. In disaster response, more attention is paid to problems than promotive factors that lead to resilience, the ability to adapt and cope following adversity, and increased self-efficacy.
Methods: Data following Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill in the United States will be presented to illustrate the importance of resilience and self-efficacy in disaster recovery. Screening data on approximately 5000 youth showed that perceived self-efficacy serves as a protective factor influencing the relationship between disaster exposure and trauma symptoms. Another data set evaluating mental health symptoms, hurricane exposure, and oil spill stress indicated significant decreases in posttraumatic stress symptoms with individual trajectories showing consistency with resilience theory.
Findings: The outcomes of this study support the need for resilience-based programming before and after disasters to support child and adolescent recovery.

A Social Ecological and Systems Approach to Community Resilience
Presenter: Howard J. Osofsky Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, USA)
Introduction: Individuals and communities that are dependent on the stability and quality of the local environment for sustaining their economy are repeatedly threatened by hurricanes and technological disasters such as oil spills. Experiences with past response and restoration activities have provided opportunities to improve preparedness; however, these lessons learned often do not receive the collaboration among community stakeholders and differing scientific disciplines necessary for multi-systemic application.
Methods: This presentation will examine multiple aspects of recovery and preparedness and the human dimension that strengthens current efforts. The development of community coalitions utilizing multidimensional frameworks for incorporating a trauma-informed focus on developmental concerns, cultural issues, acute trauma exposure, and transgenerational adversity will be presented. Community coalitions draw on local and national expertise and best science, converting the information to community-based practice models respectful of the needs of children and families in local areas struggling to recover.
Findings:  Further, consideration will be given to explore how health, social well-being, and economics intersect to support these coalitions and build individual and community resilience. Gaps in knowledge and practice based on previous experience with natural and technological disaster will be considered as a way to formulate priorities for research, outreach, and education.

Differential susceptibility and differential impact of the environment: Early intervention effect of an attachment intervention is moderated by the 5HTTLPR genotype
Presenter: Mark Tomlinson (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Co-Author: Pasco Fearon, Robert Kumsta, Dirk Moser, Sarah Skeen, Peter Cooper 
Introduction: Individual differences in people’s genetic make-up can cause them to react differently to environmental factors, including interventions. Differential interactions between the long and short variants of the serotonin transporter gene (5HTTLPR) have been shown to influence depressive responses to early life adversity. This presentation will focus on the impact of genetic differential susceptibility of the 5HTTLPR gene on the interaction effect on secure attachment at 18 months in the Thula Sana study with the implications of for interventions in low and middle income countries.
Methods: In the Thula Sana study pregnant women who received an intervention between 1999 and 2003 to improve attachment with their infants were followed. They were re-enrolled when the children were 13 years old. All participants provided saliva samples for DNA extraction. Of the 218 participants for whom data was available 88 were “susceptible” (had either one or two short alleles, ss or sl) and 130 were “non-susceptible” (two long alleles, ll). The susceptible 5HTTLPR short/short or short/long allele carriers in the intervention group had a significantly higher rate of secure attachment than susceptible carriers in the control group, while non-susceptible long/long carriers in the intervention group did not significantly differ from their counterparts in the control group.
Findings: Findings indicated that measuring genetic differences allows for assessment of the effectiveness of an intervention in different individuals. Second, findings can guide ways to improve outcomes for a non-responsive gene-intervention interaction while continuing to optimize outcomes for the responsive one. 


Mark Tomlinson

Stellenbosch University
avatar for Michael Ungar

Michael Ungar

Director, Resilience Research Centre
Michael Ungar, Ph.D., is a Family Therapist and Professor of Social Work at DalhousieUniversity where he holds a national Research Chair in Child, Family and CommunityResilience. His research on resilience around the world and across cultures has made him one ofthe best-known scholars... Read More →

Thursday June 15, 2017 09:30 - 11:00 SAST
Hall C Century City Conference Centre