Coalitions join forces to provide workshop for Region 8 teens

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - As we first told you on Wednesday the tone conference usually scheduled for this weekend was canceled because of a lack of funding.

Because that event is not happening, two other groups have stepped forward to provide teens with a similar experience free of charge.

More than 60 teens from different schools are spending this weekend learning the same material but instead of learning math or literature they're learning information that could save the lives of their classmates.

"We want to provide an opportunity for them to go back to their communities to be leaders and make a positive change for alcohol and drug abuse," said Alison Oglesby, ATOD Project Coalition Director.

Most of the teenagers have been a part of TONE in the past.  When it was clear that event wouldn't happen the Randolph County Cornerstone Coalition and the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs Coalition in Lawrence County joined forces to provide a similar learning experience.

"It helps you learn more about leadership and it lets you take it back to your school and your communities," said student Morgan Smith.

To help the students learn, speaker Nigel Wrangham encouraged teens to develop a skit to demonstrate the meaning of a particular word.

"If we can do something where we change the conditions around all the kids, then we can get further into creating a healthy community for them," said Wrangham.

He said one of the main reasons kids are learning the lessons is they aren't jaded.

"If you're an elected official and a bunch of prevention professionals who are paid come into your office to lobby for change that means one thing.  If a bunch of young people come it's a lot harder to say no to them," said Wrangham.

Smith said she has learned bravery and courage as a part of these events and hopes to take that back to her school.

"Even though they think that it's kind of dorky and geeky that you're doing all this and it's a waste of your time it really isn't.  There are people out there who really do care they want you to fix it they're just not willing to say it," said Smith.

The event also included training for the adults from the different schools.  Students from schools in Mississippi, Greene, Poinsett, Clay, Lawrence, and Randolph Counties were at the conference that continues Saturday.

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