WCYC Assists with WCPC Meet & Greet

Weakley County Youth Coalition Addressing Substance Use
Posted on 08/30/2019
This is the image for the news article titled Weakley County Youth Coalition Addressing Substance UseThe Weakley County Prevention Coalition’s meet and greet on Thursday evening included many Weakley County Youth Coalition members from area schools doing much of the greeting. Along with the dinner, door prizes, and free medication lock boxes distributed, guests who came to the free event at Martin Police Department were also treated to a demonstration of items many teens use to ensure drugs and alcohol are "Hidden in Plain Sight."

Randy Frazier and Catherine Jones listen to how drugs can be hidden in plain sightThe come-and-go gathering was open to the public and in support of the WCPC mission to plan and implement strategies to prevent and reduce substance use and its consequences thereby enhancing the lives of youth and adults across Weakley County.

Many of the maroon WCPC T-shirt clad greeters were leaders from one of the various Weakley County Youth Coalition groups that are, for the first time, now in every middle and high school in the county.

“In prevention, we feel education is key,” said Courtney Echols, WCPC Program Director. “Starting the conversation early and being upfront with the youth about the negative consequences of drug use will empower our youth to make good decisions when faced with the pressure of substance use.”

Six of the youth-led campus groups have the school nurse assuming the role of sponsor. Included among those is Beth Kempton, Westview’s school nurse and the supervisor of nurses across the district. “The youth coalition is made up of students that want to make a difference in their schools,” she explained. “They have learned about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and want to share this information with their peers They want to go to a school that is drug free and concentrate on having fun in a healthy safe way.”

That emphasis on health has made a believer out of Jenna Freeman, Westview’s Youth Coalition president. “I think the Youth Coalition is a good way for teens in our community to get involved in something positive. I really believe in the work we do and the message we stand for,” she said.

Jennifer Brown, the Martin Middle School Youth Coalition sponsor and also the school nurse, sees the student-led groups playing a vital role. “I think the youth coalition offers a unique opportunity to reach kids at MMS who aren't involved in the usual extracurricular activities and have a place to interact with other students to work towards a common goal,” she explained. “It is also a great way to involve students that would be considered high risk.”

Addressing that risk means staying informed regarding the many ways students can find to hide illegal substances “in plain sight.” On Thursday, Mary Duncan of the Milan Prevention Coalition, was there to demonstrate items available for purchase online which make it easy to disguise growing habits from friends, families, and teachers.

Duncan explained that Tipton County was the first area in Northwest Tennessee to provide overviews of the various ways teens turn items like water bottles with fake bottoms sold as a means to keep valuables safe while traveling, etc., into hideouts for marijuana, pills, and other substances.

“Juuls were so prevalent in our high school, and teachers didn’t even know what they were,” explained Duncan of the vaping device that looks more like something to plug into a computer than a cigarette. Learning more about these devices and other means by which students can conceal their substance abuse led her to begin conducting the Hidden in Plain Sight demos. She’s spoken in more than ten schools since the beginning of the new school year.

“And it’s made a difference,” she reported. “Now teachers know what to look for.”

Photos from Event:

Students at the meet and greetMembers and sponsors of Weakley County Youth Coalitions worked alongside Weakley County Prevention Coalition staff and board members to meet and greet the community on Thursday night at the Martin Police Department. Among those present were Christina Henry, Jenna Freeman, Paige Mallon, Regenia Horton, Aman Ervin, Beth Kempton, Jennifer Brown, Diane Lillegard, Tina Kelly, Emily Ray, Belle Fowler, Aliyah Rosa, board chair Catherine Jones, and David Carlisle.

Nurses plan with studentsNurses and WCYC sponsors Tina Kelly and Regenia Horton work with students on upcoming plans for the organization focused on prevention of substance use.