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Summit highlights youth leadership

Last week, before Ohio University Southern closed the campus down, the school served as host to the Southeast Ohio Regional Youth Summit, which took place on March 9.

According to Mollie Stevens, an Ohio-certified prevention specialist with Impact Prevention, 15 teams of middle and high school youth, representing seven different counties from around the state (Lawrence, Vinton, Logan, Scioto, Monroe, Brown and Gallia) learned about youth-led prevention, which allows young people to have a voice in addressing emotional/behavioral health and other critical life skills.

She said last year’s summit took place at Kent State University.

As part of the event, she said youth teams chose a problem in their communities and worked on an evidence-based program to tackle it.

Stevens said while change may not come overnight, youth-led groups show more momentum in their action.

“Young people can be more civic-minded and hopeful,” she said. “And dive into the work.”

The day kicked off with a presentation from Lawrence County Juvenile Court Judge Patricia Sanders, which Stevens said reinforced the idea that youth can accomplish any goal they set for themselves with hard work and perseverance. Learning objectives accomplished throughout the day included:

What is Youth-led Prevention?

• Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Prevention Strategies, which focused on best practice procedures to keep others from engaging in negative behavior.

• Identification of Intervening Variables; the “Why here?/Why now?” of prevention work.

• Diving into Data, which utilized datasets from Ohio Healthy Youth Environments Survey for grades 7-12(2016-2019). This data reflected Appalachian counties, and allowed the teams to establish a regional focus, which was determined to be mental health.

All workshop-style sessions focused on hands-on experiential learning, and challenged young people to use critical thinking skills and to work together as a team. To model the relationships between youth and adult allies, youth from Lawrence and Scioto counties co-facilitated the learning segments, handled registration and worked as emcees to lead energizers with adult counterparts from Impact Prevention Inc., the host of the summit.

The Southeast Ohio Region Adult Learning Collaborative, known as the “Southeast Ohio Network”, has a meeting scheduled for May 8, at Scioto Hills Christian Camp. Registration will start at 8:45 a.m., with the meeting itself being from 9 a.m. until noon. Lunch will be provided upon reservation. Email mollie@impactprevention.org for the registration link. This learning collaborative is provided free of charge.

This project was funded by Prevention Action Alliance with grants and support from Ohio

Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services and local support from Lawrence County Juvenile Court. A special thanks to all schools and agencies for provision of transportation and staff (Adult Allies and/or bus drivers).