Impact summit a success

This past week, Scioto County had its first ever Youth Summit involving Impact Prevention at Shawnee State University. This summit is a first for Scioto County’s Impact Prevention.

Attending the event were the following high schools: Valley, Bloom-Vernon, Northwest, Clay, Notre Dame, Minford, East, Portsmouth City, and Portsmouth West.

In total, approximately 120 students participated. All participating schools put aside their differences and competitiveness to come together and build a stronger foundation for Scioto County.

“The Youth Summit was a very success day of youth empowerment. It’s great seeing the peer-to-peer model and how impactful it truly is,” Eddie Neel, public relations officer with Impact Prevention said. “We couldn’t be more proud of the students involved in our Impact Youth-Led Prevention teams. This was a day planned by the youth for the youth and was extremely successful!! This was our first annual event for Scioto County.”

Neel explained there will be a combined Youth Summit in the Spring for Scioto and Lawrence Counties with more details to come on that.

“The purpose of the summit was to give us teenagers a chance to have a voice,” Minford High School Junior Mya Shonkwiler said. “The students were each given a t-shirt with a different color, separating them into different groups intended to give them the opportunity to make friends from other schools. Then, they rotated throughout stations led by their fellow classmates.”

Shonkwiler is a member of the leadership team organized by Impact Prevention.

“The preparation it took for the event to run smoothly was something that was worth it in the end,” Shonkwiler explained. “Eleven of us students from Minford, Northwest, and East attended multiple meetings inside and outside of school to plan and practice for the summit. Each group had three to four high schoolers leading, and each had a presentation and games to follow.”

Topics being covered included leadership, assertiveness, and how to be a good friend.

“The stations were named “Stand Up, Speak Up,” “LEAD,” and “Be a Friend, Get a Friend.” After the stations, each school gathered together to plan what they will be personally doing to impact their school,” Shonkwiler said. “I had the privilege of meeting new people whom I know I will always be able to count on.”

The training is a combination of interactive lessons and lectures in small group rotations of a 25 to 3 ratio.

“It empowers them, gives them skills, sharpens existing skills, and gives the students who attend the opportunity to return to their own schools with these skills to strengthen their school teams or start their own,” Neel said. “Some of the schools attending don’t have their own team, so this is also a recruitment opportunity for us to grow into more schools.”

Impact Prevention meets with the schools once per month moving forward and a school staff member is also available to lead them in-between meeting days. The groups have many events and functions to promote positivity in their schools, according to Neel.

“There has been so much focus on treatment and that is way down the stream by the time someone is involved in the misuse of a substance,” Neel said. “We want to get in front of that and we want to catch kids at a young age to make healthier decisions.”

Shonkwiler said she met with many of the students and was happy with the outcome. Following the event, she spoke with Minford Freshman Savanna Barker.

“She said, ‘It was really fun being around people from different schools and making new friends. We were able to learn about the qualities of being a leader.’ Maxwell Lauder, also a freshman at Minford, explained to me how he was encouraged to be more outgoing,” Shonkwiler said. “As a whole, we gained confidence in our generation, while learning to become problem-solvers, bold, and kind. These qualities are something that will be used for a lifetime.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved