Leading into the new school year of 2017-2018, the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition hosted the annual youth leadership training on October 23, 2017. The coalition invited all high school members involved in the Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council (YLC) to attend this training. The ideal reason for this event is to help students that are willing to learn better grasp the ideas of being a leader and become aware of certain health defining situations. This year, YLC numbers have decreased compared to recent years, but there was still a decent group of 12 youth between 9th - 12th grade who attended with an open mind and focused on learning.
Throughout the day the students took part in different activities and discussions such as Leadership Training, Art Activities, Planning and an ISTEP presentation. The Leadership workshop provided the students with an opportunity to get to know one another a little better, to participate in some team building activities, and to have fun while learning the art of leadership. The youth also participated in several activities and discussions and had a couple of guests that took the time to visit during the training.
The first guest was Garin Buttermore from Iowa Department of Public Health. He did a presentation for the youth on the Iowa Students for Tobacco Education and Prevention (ISTEP) program that addresses the prevention of youth tobacco use. This is a state wide youth group that has a council made up of high school and college students that choose their activities for the state. The council then enlists the help of local youth organizations to do the activities in their areas. The YLC group in Van Buren County partners with ISTEP in their activities throughout the year. YLC members are also offered the opportunity to attend the ISTEP Summit in the spring each year.
The second guest was Kelli Keck from Epiphany Community Services. She conducted a focus group discussion about different issues and problems that the students had witnessed and their feelings on these topics. Kelli then provided a training on how to address issues and problems in the community through the strategic prevention framework. She had the youth split into groups and read various information containing data about drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and even suicide issues in Van Buren County. Finally, she and the Youth Coordinators helped the youth to develop action plans to address some of these issues in the community.
Lindsey Starnes, a senior at Van Buren said, “I really enjoyed finding more ways to inform students and members of the community about the harmful effects of using tobacco. I also enjoyed making new friends that share the same goal as me.”
This event is fun for the students each year and provides them with some valuable learning opportunities. They are able to learn public speaking skills, leadership skills, planning skills and how to make a change in their community based on the problems that they have identified! YLC members will be active all year in hopes to spread the word about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco as well as a few health and wellness initiatives …… be watching…… more to come!
For more information on Youth Leadership Council or this training please contact the SAFE Coalition office at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.