The Spalding County Youth Advisory Council recently attended the Georgia Teen Institute to learn leadership skills and to lay the groundwork for the upcoming year. The Spalding County Youth Advisory Council is a youth-based workshop working within the scope of the Spalding Collaborative. It is a community service and youth leadership team made up of local middle and high school students who address youth-related issues in the Griffin-Spalding County area. The council is also affiliated with Gwinnett United in Drug Education Inc. (GUIDE).
GUIDE sponsors the yearly Georgia Teen Institute, a summer training program with year-round support. Youth councils attend the institute at Oxford College to learn more about their communities and to plan peer-focused prevention and community service projects to use in their communities. They also engage in the Strategic Prevention Framework planning process through workshops, teen meetings and team-building activities.
Spalding County students attending the four-day institute in June with chaperone Carmen Caldwell were Yasmine King, JaKiyah Gregory, Gracia Evans, Naysa Gilbert, Dy’Mond Bell and India Berry. Griffin High School’s Shamere Crawford, a member of the Spalding Youth Advisory Council for three years, was selected this year to serve as a member of the GTI staff, which Caldwell says is a highly competitive assignment.
Spalding’s Youth Advisory Council is committed to peer-focused alcohol and substance abuse activities throughout the year, Caldwell said. The team is planning a youth seminar for Red Rib-bon Week, which takes place the last week of October. “The seminar is aimed at helping their peers with the skills to resist the pressure of using alcohol and drugs,” Caldwell said. The Spalding YAC is also planning to provide resources for their peers to help them find healthy alternatives to dealing with stressors that lead to sub-stance use and abuse, which can lead to students’ dropping out of school, Caldwell added.
Caldwell said Spalding YAC will also do other peer-focused activities through-out the school year, including social media campaigns, public service announcements and news articles.
“They are tackling two issues — underage drinking and substance abuse and high school dropouts, but with the training and support they received at Georgia Teen Institute, the support of the Spalding Collaborative and its partners and the support of the community, there is no doubt they will do a great job addressing these issues facing their peers,” Caldwell said. The Spalding YAC is open to any middle and high school-aged youth living in Spalding County.
“We welcome students that desire to impact their peers and community in a positive way,” Caldwell said. Any teen interested in joining the council may contact YAC adviser Marty Mayes at 678-409-6370 or by email at [email protected]
Karen Gunnels, Griffin Daily News Staff