Teen Town Hall slated Jan. 27 Event puts youths in problem-solving role

Teens will get the chance to be problem- solvers for their generation during the upcoming annual Anti-Drug Coalition’s Teen Town Hall at the Salvation Army Community Center on Jan. 27.

For the third year in a row, the ADC is hosting a full day of activities that get teens talking while presenting real solutions to issues they face every day in Citrus County.

Eckerd Youth Prevention Specialist Aileen David said having students come up with solutions is the answer.

“For years, we would have to entice teens with goodies, while adults tell them what is right and wrong, but we have had success with letting students work together to come up with big ideas to create change,” David said.

“We realized it had to be more interactive, giving them a place to speak and a place to work through issues they deal with,” she said. “And it is a win-win for both parties. The group of professionals find out the major issues affecting teens’ lives, and at the same time it gives teens an opportunity to be heard.”

Participating teens are selected from high schools in Citrus County by guidance personnel Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) leaders.

These teens are from grades nine to 12 and have diverse backgrounds.

This year, the meeting will focus primarily on “Human Connection” — on issues such as:

Violence — How can human connection prevent violence, bullying, and abuse? How can human connection promote unity?

Relationships — How does human connection affect our understanding of body image, relationship with self/others, personal value, and teen pregnancy?

Addictions and Mental Health — How does striving for human connection impact a teen’s decision to drink, use drugs, or use tobacco or pornography?

Media — What does the media tell us about connecting with others?

Groups will be led by a community leader selected as an expert in the subject, and co-facilitated by a student leader. This year’s community leaders will be Sunshine Arnold of Citrus Abuse Shelter Association (CASA); Victoria Thorp and Val Byron, of Aspire; Diane Martin, of the Citrus County Schools System; and Citrus County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Barry.

Students will discuss topics by defining and examining what role media plays in each area. Students will then be asked to focus on solutions to address an assigned issue, and develop practical proposals that can be easily implemented within the school system or community.

“How many times will you hear people talking and never coming with a solution,” David said. “I want teens to get a taste of working with a community and creating solutions through collective thoughts.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Julie Gorham at 352-563-3236 or jgorham@chronicleonline.com.

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