MAPS students take active role in prevention groups

MANISTEE — When it comes to discussing  substance abuse, one of the best ways to deliver a message about the dangers to students is to have it come from their peers.

At Manistee Middle/High School school officials are taking steps to achieve that by having student representatives attend Substance Education Awareness (SEA) Youth Involvement committee meetings along with school administrators. In January 2017, the Human Services Collaborative Body responded to the need for action against the opiod epidemic by forming SEA.

The mission of SEA is to increase community awareness of substance issues and support existing programs in the community to reduce risk factors — things that lead to substance abuse, while increasing protective factors for people in this area of all ages. The method that SEA is using is called “Communities That Care.” For the area of youth they have created a Youth Involvement Committee.

Incorporating student involvement in these type of groups is something that Manistee Middle/High School principal Andy Huber said is getting a good response from the student body.

“Something that has impressed me is the way they have latched on to this and the input they are giving,” said Huber.

When Huber attends the monthly SEA Youth Involvement meetings he takes with him students Starr Koon, Kiera Raymond and Megan Huber from the MHS Students Against Destructive Decisions, MHS student council members Maddie Verheek and Ava Thuemmel, MHS National Honor Society’s Ryan Biller and Gender/Sexuality Awareness’ (GSA) Kyle Carter.

Huber said the students have brought back the information they have learned and put it use in educating their peers at several student events.

“The Armory Youth Project has been a great facilitator for this when they have done some of their blitzes for students, they let us be a sponsor at some of the events,” said Huber. “Our Students Against Destructive Decisions have done some things and this year they are doing a New Year’s Eve Party and some different events.”

The MHS/MMS middle school principal said something that they are currently planning is a much larger public forum on Jan. 20 concerning vaping.

“The students are going to organize it and invite the community to come in and hear about vaping,” said Huber. “This is kind of timely in what is happening in our society and asking questions about vaping and if it has any impacts. A lot of the marketing has been toward teenagers and our concern in the building is it’s really difficult to catch kids who are vaping.”

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.

Vaping has grown in popularity with the rise of e-cigarettes, which were introduced to the mass market in the U.S. in 2007. Vaping devices include not just e-cigarettes, but also vape pens and advanced personal vaporizers (also known as “MODS”). E-cigarettes, which resemble smoked cigarettes, and vape pens, which resemble large fountain pens, are typically simpler in design and less expensive than devices that have been customized by the user.

Huber said himself, teacher Bridget Warnke and students went to Frankfort last month to view a community information program that was put on and provided some good details on the subject.

“We saw what they are doing with it and we want to come back and kind of base ours off of what they did in Frankfort,” said Huber. “We are going to highlight a couple of websites and organizations that will feature information to be available to parents.”

What makes school officials proud is the students are taking a proactive position and are trying to educate their peers about something that may be harmful to them.

“I just think it is good that the kids are going out to attend these meetings and having interactions to plan these events in our community and school,” said Huber. “The goal is to have them engaged in the planning process.”

Huber said student involvement is also taking place in the Manistee Suicide Awareness Coalition. He said this is another important topic that impacts school age students.

“Two years ago (superintendent) Ron (Stoneman) and (Jefferson Elementary principal) Julia (Raddatz) attended the West Michigan Suicide Awareness Coalition in Montague, and when we were down there we saw there was a community one here,” he said.

Huber said assistant principal Jason Traviss is attending the local one this year along with MAPS students Morgan Ju (SADD), Emily Thomas (student council), Eleanor Scarlata (National Honor Society) and Alexis Farmer (GSA).

avatar

Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply