SLICK TRACY CURRICULUM
In early March, I attended a two day training on Project Northland Curriculum, which is an alcohol and drug use prevention curriculum for 6th-8th grade students. It is an evidence-based program based on the idea that the influence of peers, family members, school, the media, and the community plays a critical role in promoting or discouraging alcohol and drug use among teens. The Project Northland curriculum focuses on engaging not only youth but also schools, families, and the larger community in one comprehensive prevention effort. Studies have shown that students who participated in Project Northland showed a 27% lower use of both cigarettes and alcohol by the end of eighth grade compared to control groups.
The 6th grade curriculum is called Slick Tracy and includes Peer Leaders in the classroom, family involvement with the Slick Tracy Home Team Program, and the Slick Tracy Poster Fair. Peer Leaders are students chosen by their classmates and play an important role in facilitating the curriculum, leading small group activities and introducing new materials to the class. The Home Team portion of Slick Tracy consists of four activity booklets, including comic strips featuring "Slick Tracy" and his sidekick "Breathtest Nobeera" (see above), that students complete with a parent or other trusted adult. The culminating event in the Slick Tracy curriculum is the poster fair, which gives students the opportunity to present their own alcohol-related research projects to their families and community.
The Pacific County Health Department started teaching the Slick Tracy curriculum in Willapa Valley, South Bend, and Raymond 6th grade classrooms in March and I have been helping facilitate. The students have a lot of fun in the lessons (and so do I), but I think the most important aspect of the curriculum is the at-home component. Slick Tracy really gives parents some guidance and support around talking with their student about alcohol and drugs, which we know is a key factor in preventing our teens from using. I look forward to continuing to partner with the Health Department to work with the 6th grade students.
TAC Town Hall 2016
March 8th was the culmination of a lot of the work I had been doing for TAC: our Town Hall event!
This year’s theme was Shine Online, featuring a community fair and dinner followed by a presentation by social media expert Josh Ochs. I was very excited to have over twenty community organizations at our community fair. It was a great opportunity not only for the community to learn about available resources, but also to increase connection and collaboration among those organizations. Plus it was awesome to see all of the good work happening in Pacific County!
The keynote speaker of the evening, Josh Ochs, is author of the bestselling book “Light, Bright And Polite” and he travels the country training 30,000 teens each year how to be safe and smart online. At Town Hall, Josh spoke with North Pacific County parents and community members for two hours, addressing questions around what makes apps unsafe for teens to use and how teachers, parents, and community members can help our teens to use social media positively and productively. If you are interested in learning more, you can find Josh’s Parent App Guide and additional information online at www.safesmartsocial.com.
I just want to say thank-you again to everyone who volunteered and attended for helping make TAC Town Hall 2016 a success!
Sources Of Strength
On March 11th, again in partnership with the Pacific County Health Department, the Peer Helpers, Peer Helper Advisors, and I were able to attend a Sources of Strength training. Sources of Strength is a best practice youth suicide prevention project designed to harnesses the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture, ultimately preventing suicide, bullying, and substance abuse. The mission of Sources of Strength is to prevent suicide by increasing help seeking behaviors and promoting connections between peers and caring adults. Sources of Strength utilizes an upstream model for youth suicide prevention that strengthens multiple sources of support (protective factors) around young individuals so that when times get hard they have strengths to rely on. The eight main categories of strengths include: Mental Health, Spirituality, Medical Access, Generosity, Family Support, Healthy Activities, Positive Friends, and Mentors. Our Peer Helpers will be working to bring the information they learned at the Sources of Strength training to their peers in the upcoming months. Check out the epic video below introducing our Sources of Strength team to the community:
The week of March 21st, I had the opportunity to help at the 2016 Willapa Harbor Business Week, which is a program for juniors from Raymond, South Bend, and Willapa Valley to teach skills needed to succeed in business.
Students are grouped into "companies" who are guided by a volunteer from the local business community as they learn how to run a business, explore career options, make ethical and financial decisions, and compete for investors. The culmination of business week happens on Friday when student companies have stockholder presentations to a panel of community members during which they explain their business decisions over a simulated two fiscal years. Also on Friday is the trade show, during which students attempt to get community member "investors" to give them money for the new product their company developed.
I had a ton of fun at business week- seeing students learn by experience and really step up for the stockholder presentations and the trade show. I had the additional opportunity to talk with all the students about leadership for about an hour on Monday. (See slides below)
Peer Helper Projects
My Raymond and South Bend students have been busy in March, too! Both groups are planning Self-Esteem Awareness weeks for their schools during the week of April 11th-15th. Additionally, South Bend Peer Helpers have planned a TAC Teen Night at South Bend High School on this Friday, April 8th. Teen Night is a safe place for teens to hang out, eat food, and play video games or sports, watch a movie, etc. and it is open to all North Pacific County high school students.
That was my March! Stay tuned to hear about all the exciting events we have coming up in April!
Tuesday, March 8th was a night of connection and education in North Pacific County at the Teen Advocacy Coalition’s annual Town Hall event. This year’s theme was Shine Online, featuring a community fair and dinner followed by a presentation by social media expert Josh Ochs. With over twenty community organizations present, the community fair was a great opportunity to learn about all of the great work happening in Pacific County. “I was very excited to have so many local agencies and organizations represented,” said Alyssa Grams, AmeriCorps member serving with the Teen Advocacy Coalition (TAC), “It’s a great opportunity not only for the community to learn about available resources, but also to increase connection and collaboration among those organizations. It’s awesome to see all of the good work happening in Pacific County!”
The keynote speaker of the evening, Josh Ochs, is author of the bestselling book “Light, Bright And Polite” and he travels the country training 30,000 teens each year how to be safe and smart online. Josh educates parents around the latest apps teens are using, including which ones are positive and safe and which one are unsafe for teens, as well as how to have conversations with their kids about social media use. His Popular App Guide for Parents and Teachers features a ranking system from the green or “safe” zone, which includes apps like Facebook and Instagram, to red or “unsafe” zone, which includes anonymous apps like AfterSchool, Ask.fm, and Kik. “We’ve been seeing a lot of issues in the schools lately around cyberbullying, sexting, and other misuse of social media,” said Grams, “ Because part of our mission here at TAC is to support teen mental health, we thought it was important to bring in an expert.” Josh spoke with North Pacific County parents and community members for two hours, addressing questions around what makes apps unsafe for teens to use and how teachers, parents, and community members can help our teens to use social media positively and productively. If you are interested in learning more, you can find Josh’s Parent App Guide and additional information online at www.safesmartsocial.com.
“Town Hall is a great opportunity to bring together community members from all sectors to talk about how we can support teens in North Pacific County. Thank you to all who helped make the evening a success!” said Grams.
As part of my work with Willapa Community Network, I've had the opportunity to sit on Wellspring Community Network's Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) committee. On February 2nd, Wellspring hosted a community event called Building Community Resilience to educate community members from all sectors about ACEs and resiliency.
ACEs Forum Recap: Community Bands Together for Change
(Content contributed by AmeriCorps member Colton Christener):
If ever there was a case where a community banded together in order to make drastic changes for the people in the area, Pacific County, Washington is it. On February 2, the WellSpring Community Network hosted a Building Community Resilience event to bring community leaders together for a training regarding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how to offer trauma-informed care to people they serve. An ACE is a traumatic experience in a person's life occurring before the age of 18 that the person remembers as an adult. In order to find a person’s ACE score, they are asked questions regarding neglect, domestic violence, abuse, divorce, and other events possibly experienced as a child. Here in Pacific County, there are many different organizations that provide support and services for those who struggle to overcome childhood adversity, but a concrete vision about how to better the community as a whole seemed hazy. This event brought leaders together from sectors such as Health and Medical, Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Youth and Family Support, to collaborate in creating a plan to build community resilience.
The event was fortunate enough to have Laura Porter deliver a presentation about the Foundations of Healthy Generations, ACEs and N.E.A.R Science (Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACEs and Resilience). By presenting, she was not only able to teach the public about ACEs, but she was able to explain the need for a united goal to increase resiliency in Pacific County.
After the presentation, participants were divided into their sectors where they were able to discuss current trauma-informed practices, as well as brainstorming ways to fill missing resources within their sector. After finding their gaps in resources, local leaders were able to offer ideas to other sectors in order to fulfill the community’s need to implement more trauma-informed care. By the end of the day, the room was filled with excitement and hope about how the community will benefit from the united front provided through WellSpring’s Community Resilience event.
To learn more about ACEs, visit Wellspring's ACEs Overview page. To learn more about the event or read notes from participants, go to Wellspring's Building Community Resilience page. I will be working to bring ACEs training to North Pacific County in the fall.
Youth Mental Health First Aid
On February 12th, my AmeriCorps team and I participated in Youth Mental Health First Aid training where we learned the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder. We learned how to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by using ALGEE, a five-step action plan:
Hearts for the ARts
Saturday, February 13th, was the Willapa Heritage Foundation's annual fundraising event, Hearts for the Arts. A team of Raymond Peer Helpers and I volunteered at the event, serving the three course dinner to attendees. The Peer Helpers received many compliments from volunteers and attendees alike and I was very proud of their hard work.
SADD Club Retreat
The Raymond High School Students Against Destructive Decisions Club had a retreat on February 26th. I was asked to help facilitate some activities and education around preventing teen drug and alcohol use. Prevention Consultants Sean Jarvis and John Ashley facilitated a presentation about drug trends in Pacific County and answered student questions. Using data from the 2014 Healthy Youth Survey, I led the students in a conversation around myths and facts of drug and alcohol use by their peers. We also talked about what motivates teens to experiment with substances. We wrapped up the day by having students create mini ad campaigns to discourage the use of drugs and alcohol. It was a fun and informative day!
Conflict Resolution Training
On the 11th, my AmeriCorps team and I participated in a Conflict Resolution training facilitated by TAC board member, Donna Hallock. First we discussed what conflict is, what it looks like, and where it often occurs. We learned about our own conflict styles and how those inform how we handle conflict in our lives (I found out that I’m an avoider). Finally, we learned about and practiced some conflict resolution communication techniques like reflections and asking neutral, impartial questions. It was a lovely training and I walked away with some more self-awareness and some new skills to navigate conflict.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
For AmeriCorps members, MLK day is a “day on” rather than a “day off”. Teams are expected to plan service activities and give back to their community. For our service day, we visited the Willapa Harbor Care Center and the Alder House in North County and the Long Beach Retirement and Assisted Care in South County. We visited with residents, playing games, doing puzzles, coloring, and learning about their stories.
TAC Teen Night
The 20th was the very first TAC Teen Night. We hosted an Open Mic event at Elixir Coffee, Tea & Flowers in South Bend. Our South Bend Peer Helpers were in charge of planning and advertising for the event as well as running the raffle and emceeing the event- they were amazing! We had about 35 attendees and around 10 performers with talents from singing to storytelling to performing poetry. It was a super fun, successful evening!
Point In Time Count and Project HOmeless Connect
On the 28th, I helped carry out the Point In Time count, which is a nation-wide census of housing insecure folks. It’s important to have accurate numbers of community members in need of housing in order for us to receive funding to provide services for those folks. It was an emotional day, but overwhelming positive, especially when we were able to get people to Project Homeless Connect, where they could receive support and services they needed.
Pacific County REsource Directory
As part of my role in Willapa Community Network, I spent a lot of time in January updating the Pacific County Resource Directory for 2016. You can check that out below. To request printed copies, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TAC Board Retreat: New Projects
In November, the TAC board had a retreat during which we revised our mission and vision and talked about where TAC has been and where we are headed. Three things that came out of the retreat that I’ve been working on include:
1. Working with teens to create more pro-social activities in our community. We are hoping to partner with community organizations and local businesses to make this an inclusive effort. One event in the works is an Open Mic Night for teens to perform poetry or music. We are looking at January for this event and Elixir Coffee Tea & Flowers has offered to be the venue. Look for more information soon!
2. Creating a middle school program similar to Peer Helpers. Students would receive a shorter training and provide support for their peers, work with the high school Peer Helpers on projects, and act as advocates for the middle schools. This would also provide an opportunity for our high school peer helpers to be mentors and leaders for the middle school peer program.
3. Re-branding the “Teen Arm” so that there’s less confusion around the difference between Peer Helpers (who have received specific training) and youth who want to be involved in TAC. I’m getting input from the Peer Helpers about what they think the “Youth Arm” should be called and what they think the middle school peer program should be called.
Social Norms Posters
Another project I’ve been working on this month is aimed at correcting incorrect ideas about the rates of alcohol and drug use among teens in our community. Using data from the 2014 Healthy Youth Survey, I’ve been creating infographics like the ones below:
Willapa Community Network
My work for WCN this month included creating a website (check it out here: www.willapacommunitynetwork.weebly.com) and reviving their Facebook page (check THAT out here: https://www.facebook.com/Willapa-Community-Network). I’m also coordinating the 2016 WCN Mini-Grants. You can find more information about that on our website. Applications are due December 11th.
Growing Together Community Garden
I’m really excited to be able to volunteer at the Growing Together Community Garden in South Bend for a couple of hours each week as part of my service. If you don’t know, the garden grows food for the food bank (212.5 pounds of fruit and veggies in September alone!) and serve elderly, mildly disabled, low income, and immigrant persons by renting garden beds at low cost and supporting the gardeners with information, consultation, cheer leading, and use of tools and supplies. Check out the garden on Facebook for more info: https://www.facebook.com/Growing-Together-Community-Gardens
Coming Soon: online resources for teens and parents
One last thing I’ve been working on this month is compiling reliable online resources for teens and parents around health, alcohol and other drugs, and social issues. I’m hoping to publish these resources on the TAC website soon, so keep your eyes open for that!
October was a busy month for TAC, the Peer Helpers, and the Pacific County Resiliency Corps! Here’s my update:
Our Peer Helpers are getting busy with sports, school, and extracurricular activities, but they are still fired up about making changes in their schools. In Raymond, the Peer Helpers are working on revising the language of the non-discrimination code and Title XI Policy in their student handbooks to be more inclusive.
Red Ribbon Week
Check out our blog post about Red Ribbon Week here: http://www.pacificcountytac.org/blog/red-ribbon-week
School Board Presentations
On October 22nd, TAC’s Vice Chairperson Lyndsey Owen and I had the opportunity to present at the Raymond School Board meeting. We talked about TAC, the Raymond Peer Helper program, and the 2015 Peer Helper retreat. TAC is hoping to do similar outreach in Willapa Valley and South Bend school districts in November.
Pacific County Resiliency Corps
Volunteer Recruitment Training: On October 16th, the AmeriCorps team received training on Volunteer Recruitment from Jill Kawulok, Chief Operating Officer of Big Brothers, Big Sisters Southwest Washington. We brainstormed ways to increase community engagement in our organizations, learned about best practices for screening potential volunteers, and discussed strategies for keeping volunteers involved and engaged.
Make a Difference Day: On Saturday, October 24th, the AmeriCorps team hosted a Day of Service in North Pacific County. Our mission was two-fold: provide yard clean-up services to community members in need and collect winter clothing to distribute to children in our community. Three team members cleaned gutters, raked leaves, and mowed lawn for five folks in Raymond and South Bend. The rest of our team spent the day at Pioneer Grocery, Everybody’s Supermarket, and Raymond Library collecting winter clothes donations. Community members generously donated over 50 coats and sweaters which I am now working on partnering with the schools to distribute. Great success!
AmeriCorps Launch: October 30th was the official AmeriCorps launch in Seattle. Five of our team members were able to attend and represent Pacific County and Resiliency Corps. We were sworn in as AmeriCorps members, listened to Bill Basl, the director of AmeriCorps, talk about what it means to be an AmeriCorps volunteer, and got to learn about the work that our peers are doing all over the state. I also had the opportunity to volunteer with EarthCorps, planting trees and restoring natural habitat in Seattle’s Woodland Park.
ACEs and NEAR Science
On October 5th, I had the opportunity to attend an Adverse Childhood Experiences study and NEAR (Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACEs, and Resilience) science training in Seaside, Oregon. I learned about how trauma-informed care is successfully being implemented in all sorts of health and community-related settings, including behavioral health services, schools, and law enforcement policies. I sat with a group from Pacific County and we talked about how we can bring additional ACES training to Pacific County and begin and/or continue to implement trauma-informed care in all sectors in our county. If you want to learn more about the ACES study and why it’s important, check out the link below. Also keep your eyes open for training opportunities happening in Pacific County early next year. http://traumainformedoregon.org/resources/
Red Ribbon Week is a nation-wide drug prevention awareness week that runs from October 23-31st each year. Sponsored by the National Family Partnership, the mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to be a very visible, unified push toward creating safe, healthy, and drug-free communities throughout the United States. Aimed at school-age audiences, this year’s Red Ribbon Week is Respect Yourself: Be Drug Free. “We know that just telling youth that drugs are bad and not to use them doesn’t work. Instead, we are working to educate around how drugs negatively affect the adolescent brain and to focus on positive alternatives to drug use in that population,” said Alyssa Grams, AmeriCorps member with the Teen Advocacy Coalition (TAC), “I think this goes hand in hand with the theme of self-respect.”
During Red Ribbon Week in North Pacific County, TAC will be holding awareness days at Raymond, South Bend, and Willapa Valley high schools. According to Grams, “One of the things you hear a lot from youth, especially in rural areas, is that there’s nothing better to do here than get drunk or high. That’s a very common excuse for adolescent drug and alcohol use and, I think, one that’s important to address.” That’s exactly what TAC is hoping to do during Red Ribbon Week. At lunch time, students at all three high schools will have the opportunity to contribute to a collage of sorts by writing one of their favorite activities or, rather, one thing they’d “rather be doing than drugs”. These collages will then be displayed at each school.
TAC is partnering with school counselors and True North to provide accurate drug and alcohol information to students. “One of the most important aspects of TAC is to raise teen awareness regarding substance abuse,” Gracie Manlow, TAC Project Coordinator said. “By partnering with other organizations, students are receiving the most up to date data.”
While TAC is focusing on talking directly with teens for Red Ribbon Week, help and support from parents and community members is critical in working toward safe and drug-free communities for Pacific County youth.
If you would like more information about drugs and the adolescent brain or what you can do to help, or if you’d like red ribbons to display at your organization or place of business in support of Red Ribbon Week, please contact TAC at email@example.com or (360) 214-1307.
Friday, October 9th marked the first event of the Raymond High School Equality Club: a celebration of National Coming Out Day. Students hosted an information table at lunch to educate and answer the questions of their peers around the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community including the history of the Pride movement, LGBTQ rights, and how to be an ally. For Equality Club president, Maija Nordin, “it’s just all about awareness. We just want to make sure everyone knows it’s okay to be gay.”
Equality Club members created a Pride Poster displaying images of famous LGBTQ individuals and Allies such as Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Michael Sam, the first openly gay man to be drafted into the NFL, LaVerne Cox, the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy, and many others. “In a small town, it can be hard for gay people. I think they can feel like they are the only ones. This is why we are here today.” said Megan Moilanen, Equality Club Vice-President. The students’ effort was mirrored in select classrooms, where a Human Rights Campaign video celebrating actors, athletes, musicians, and reporters from the LGBTQ community was shown throughout the day.
“I think this is definitely a topic that folks can be unsure about at first, so it was awesome to see such positive responses from students, teachers, and staff- from students running around with pride wristbands and Equality Club buttons to staff asking questions about the LGBTQIAAP acronym, I think the Equality Club students have done great work in opening the conversation around a charged topic in a really positive way” says Alyssa Grams, AmeriCorps member with the Teen Advocacy Coalition and volunteer with Equality Club.
Equality Club is a completely student-driven non-curricular organization that was created in March when a group of students approached Raymond School District School Counselor, Lyndsey Owen, about creating a social justice club to promote equality. Says Owen, “I had seen other clubs and gay straight alliances work at other schools and thought it would be a great way to promote a welcoming school environment here at RHS. The response from the students has been overwhelming. The Equality Club has over 25 student members and is still growing.”
But Equality Club isn’t just for the LGBTQ community, “it’s also for stuff like race, religion, and beliefs” says Moilanen. Student members drafted a mission for Equality Club that includes promoting social equality and a safe school environment free from fear of prejudice, harassment, or violence based on age, development, disabilities, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientations, indigenous heritage, national origin, and gender or non-gender status. Owen is excited about what the Equality Club is working toward, stating that it “promotes mental health, social justice, and a welcoming student environment.”
With a successful first event under their belts, Equality Club members are looking to generate even more involvement and buy-in both in the Raymond School District and in all of Pacific County. Says Moilanen, “We really want to encourage other schools to do something like this”.
Alyssa, TAC’s new AmeriCorps member here. Each month, I’ll be reporting about what’s going on with what was formerly known as TAC’s “Youth Arm” but will now be referred to as Peer Helpers; I’ll be sharing what the South Bend, Raymond, and Willapa Valley teens are planning, what they are working on, and what they accomplish. I’ll also be writing about my AmeriCorps team, the Pacific County Resiliency Corps and about some of the work we are doing in both North and South Pacific County.
I was raised in a tiny town in rural Wisconsin called Necedah and I graduated with a B.S. in Health Promotion/Wellness and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point in 2014. I moved here from Northern California where I served with AmeriCorps at the Laytonville Healthy Start Family Resource Center for about a year. I am passionate about holistic health and wellness and particularly interested in mental health, but during my time in Laytonville, I worked primarily with K-12 students and fell in love with working with teens in peer mentoring, teen leadership, and extracurricular programs. When I read about the work TAC is doing, I knew I wanted to get involved; that’s how I ended up here in gorgeous Pacific County! I also love hiking, writing and performing poetry, swimming, canoeing, hanging out with animals, running, camping, making jewelry, and reading. I’m so excited to see what I can contribute to this program and community!
About Peer Helpers:
Peer Helpers are high school students who are voted by their peers to participate in the Peer Helper retreat based on who would be most likely to be helpful, supportive, and knowledgeable when faced with a difficult situation. All peer helpers are passionate about helping and caring for others. They are trained in when to seek additional resources in order to help their peers.
Check out our blog post about the 2015 Peer Helper retreat September 12th-14th:
About Pacific County Resiliency Corps:
Pacific County Resiliency Corps is a group of 12 AmeriCorps Members who serve a 10.5 month term in various youth-serving organizations in Pacific County in order to help reduce adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and increase resiliency of our community’s youth. Our members perform a variety of services throughout the county including providing healthy activities, educational opportunities, strong interventions, parenting education, financial literacy, family engagement, youth mentoring, tutoring, career exploration, and more.
We started our service on September 1st and attended a 3-day training retreat at Ocean Park Retreat Center to get oriented to Pacific County as well as receive training on topics like effective communication, leadership, mandatory reporting, diversity, team development, ACEs, and stress.
On September 11th, the team got together for a Day of Service in South County. We did yard work and clean-up for folks in need at Golden Sands Assisted Living as well as five private residences. Our next Day of Service is Saturday, October 24th, and we are currently inquiring about needs in North County and looking for a project. If you have ideas or want to collaborate, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Want more information about the Pacific County AmeriCorps team? Check out our page on the Pacific County Youth Alliance’s website: http://www.pacificcountyyouth.org/team-americorps.html
TAC held the 5th annual Peer Helper Retreat on September 12th – September 14th at Falls Creek Retreat Center. Students from the five Pacific County high schools were invited to attend the weekend retreat where they received various trainings to assist their peers in times of crisis. This event was funded by TAC’s Drug Free Communities Grant (DFC).
Students were selected to attend the retreat by their peers. Each high school was surveyed at the end of the school year. In the survey, students were asked to identify their top issues in their schools. Then, students select up to four peers they would feel comfortable confiding in if they had a conflict or crisis. Each of the local high schools, South Bend, Raymond, Willapa Valley, Naselle and Ilwaco could bring around 10 students.
“This is the largest event TAC hosts,” Gracie Manlow, TAC/DFC Project Coordinator, said. “The students do some pretty heavy reflecting about the issues within their schools and how they can change things for the better.”
Various trainings and activities were offered throughout the weekend. This allowed students to gain skills and knowledge in the issues their peers identified as major problems in their schools. This year, the topics included: Know Your Rights: The Legal Aspects or Bullying, Safe Space: LGBTQ training and a panel on Cyberbullying.
“Students are trained on ‘how to’ assist a friend or classmate,” Manlow said. “The goal is that students will be able to identify appropriate community resources when a friend or classmate is struggling with an issue.”
For the second year in a row, TAC sponsored mini grants for the Peer Helper Retreat. Each school was asked to build a campaign focused on a major issue in their school. Students completed applications, which asked for a dollar amount of funding, and presented their projects in front of a panel of judges. Last year, TAC sponsored a tri-district drug prevention week, which featured youth motivational speaker, Scott Backovich.
“It’s a pretty amazing to see the projects the students come up with in a short amount of time,” Manlow said. “They truly care about their schools and making a positive impact on their peers.”
TAC would like to thank its many volunteers, chaperones and presenters for making the 2015 Peer Helper Retreat a success. TAC also extends thanks to the Falls Creek Retreat Center staff and the local high schools for their continued participation and support.
“We are here for the teens,” Manlow said. “We wouldn’t exist as a coalition if it weren’t for teen involvement.”