There was an important Summit happening at the Welcome Center in Portsmouth Friday, it may not be like the big Summits you would think of, but a large group of teens from our community and the Teen Institute from Marion County gathered together to talk and learn all about Drug Prevention in our schools. On Friday, November 1, the Portsmouth Health Department sponsored the annual Portsmouth Youth Summit for local schools to send students from 8th grade through 12th grade to help with Drug Awareness within their individual schools. This summit is held in cooperation with the Ohio Teen Institute out of Marion County, Ohio.
It is the Teen Institute Mission to provide training and education for Ohio youth, empowering them to develop the skills to make drug free, healthy lifestyle choices, become resilient and responsible adults and positively impact their schools and communities.
Becky Miller from the Portsmouth City Health Department is the one who puts this Summit all together and gets everyone together here. She said that this year they had four schools that sent representatives: New Boston, Valley, Minford and CAPE. She said that they would love to have more schools attend but that it is sometimes hard to adjust schedules for some schools. This is sponsored through the Drug Free Community Support Program, it is a ten-year grant that we were awarded at the Portsmouth City Health Department. She said the day began with the kids doing some ice breakers to help them get to know each other.
Miller said, “We contact all the schools and these are the ones who were able to come today. There is a total of 72 people here adults and students, this is our 8th annual Summit. It is very interactive for the kids and the teen leaders from the Teen Institute lead everything.”
Speaking with some of the students who attended the Summit were asked about how things were going and if they were learning and enjoying themselves. Brandy Pack, a senior from New Boston High School said, “I attended last year and I enjoy this and I think they are worth the time.” Morgan Hartley, also a senior from New Boston and April Gosselin, (first-time attendee) both said, “It is good.” Dawn Scherer said, ” I think it’s good for kids to be influenced this way.” The group from New Boston said that they have a drug free carnival at Halloween at their school.
Speaking with some of the students from Valley High School, who they said brought juniors and seniors and one sophomore with them to the summit, Alyssa Redouty said, “I think its a lot of fun and educational.” Brooklyn Weeks said, “We did a lot of stuff at our school about drug awareness our freshman and sophomore years.” Caitlyn Marsh said that this is the first time this group has attended the summit and that she would recommend Valley bringing students again next year, but to bring a lot more kids.
Minford Middle School brought some of their eighth-graders to the summit. Kennedy Davis, Emily Cram and Allie McCray said they were enjoying the day and that they were learning things. Actually that the majority of us don’t use drugs in schools which surprises me, but we are only eighth-graders. Davis said, “This helps when they have teens do most of the summit because they know what kids have been through like they’ve already been through it and they can relate because different things could have happened, not like when a teacher went through it, they are teenagers now.”
Jodi Galloway, Marion Crawford Prevention Programs, Marion County Teen Institute, is the one who brought the teen leaders down to the Summit, she said, “These kids are from the Teen Institute in Marion County and this is the third time they have asked us to come down and the kids are part of our Teen YouthAdvisory Board. They represent different schools in our community. Christi Eckert is the Coalition Coordinator and she is with us here also.”
Galloway commented that the Teen Institute is a 501 C3 group and that they run on grants and donations to keep the program going. They are a small agency and they are a substance abuse prevention agency. She also said, “These kids are going to get so much more from these teens who present than anything we can do.” She also mentioned that they try to get teens from all walks of life in schools to participate, so the students they present to can relate to them, like they have athletes, band members, theatre, and any other extracurricular program represented (even someone who plays Xbox), so they can reach the students.
On this particular day, the teens were leading small groups in different things, they led a game of Drug Jeopardy, Stay Off the Grass, Escape the Vape and did some skits on the Pharming Effects. These were all about teaching students with teens that they can relate to all about the many dangers of drugs and the many types of what is considered to be drugs or drug-related things. Galloway said that they would love to see more schools represented at the Summit and learn thing that the students can use to help their schools in promoting drug prevention.
About theTeen Institute (TI), it is a drug-free leadership program for high school students. The Ohio TI is held during a week in July. Through the Ohio TI program, students develop the skills to become a positive leader within their schools and communities. Students are also equipped with the knowledge and abilities to not only make positive choices for themselves but also to encourage their peers to make healthy decisions.
The week-long program offers two tracks, one for students and one for adults that are interested in or currently work with young students.
During OTI, participants should expect to learn new information and skills, meet other drug-free leaders from across the state, and have a lot of fun!
Throughout the week, participants will take part in small discussion groups, known as family groups, allowing participants to become very acquainted with a small group of peers representing all areas of the state. Participants will also select and attend workshops throughout the week designed to educate and enhance the skills needed to be a positive leader.
Students will also have an opportunity to hear from motivational speakers, showcase their talents at the annual talent show, enjoy the beautiful environment that Heidelberg University offers, and make lifelong friends. The Teen Institute program planted its roots in Ohio in 1965 and we are proud to be continuing this program 50 years later!
From this program, this Summit is brought together with these teen leaders teaching and leading our local teens in Drug Prevention and hopefully, they will carry this positive information back to their home schools.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
© 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights