Spencer Cox

Spencer Cox speaks to audience members at the Resilience through Caring Connections conference at Utah State University on Wednesday afternoon.

LOGAN, Utah — Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox encouraged audience members to focus on individual-level solutions and building a sense of community while speaking at the Resilience through Caring Connections conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“The only way that we are going to fix what is wrong in our society is to work directly with the individual,” Cox said.

The conference was hosted at Utah State University by the Resilience through Caring Connections coalition. This group is focused on improving the well-being of families and individuals by providing resources for addressing trauma.

During the conference, Cox spoke on why he wants Utah to become a trauma-informed state and some of the steps he believes will move that process forward.

“We can train our state employees, those who are working with families who may be experiencing trauma, one, to recognize it, to understand what it means and then to provide help to overcome the trauma,” Cox said.

Cox said this goal of being trauma-informed is currently in the research stage, and he hopes the information gathered will lead to specific policy ideas that can be worked through during the next legislative session.

“What we are hoping is that we will see where those gaps are and then we will see: Do we need more funding for training? Where do we need to implement this? Where are those holes and where can we fill them?” Cox said.

In addition to Cox’s presentation, the conference included other workshops and speakers on different areas of resiliency.

Codi Thurgood is a program manager at the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. She said she chose to attend the conference because it is important to her to make sure children receive the trauma-informed services they need.

Thurgood said becoming a trauma-informed state will help service providers like herself understand where people are coming from.

“Instead of saying, ‘Why are you doing what you are doing?’ We can start from the question of what has happened to be causing this behavior?” Thurgood said.

During the conference, former USU basketball player Gary Wilkinson spoke about his personal experiences with resiliency in overcoming life challenges.

Wilkinson said learning to care about one’s self is an important first step in resiliency because it is harder to help others when you are struggling.

“Caring and respect to yourself, that is a catalyst for connecting to others in a meaningful way,” Wilkinson said.