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Youth Leaders Develop Positive Messaging & Drug Prevention Campaigns

Portage County high school students gathered in February to brainstorm ways to support their fellow students and to make their school environments more positive at the annual Youth Leadership Summit hosted by Townhall II and the Mental Health & Recovery Board.


Portage County Commissioner Sabrina Christian Bennett was on hand to welcome the students from Kent, Ravenna, Rootstown, Southeast, Streetsboro, and Waterloo school districts in the morning and offer them encouragement.


After being led through a few group activities by national facilitator Joe Markiewicz, the students analyzed Portage County survey data to prioritize risk factors in their schools that lead to problem behaviors such as substance abuse, mental health issues, bullying, and violence.


They learned about protective factors that buffer youth from problem behaviors and identified which of those assets they would like to incorporate into their plans for their schools.  


Each school team developed an action plan to take back to their school, such as a safe prom campaign, positive messaging, and school assemblies.


Tiffany Martin, the Youth Led Coordinator at Townhall II, will meet with the student teams on a regular basis after the summit to assist them carry out their plans.


“I'm really looking forward to working with these young people and seeing their projects develop over the course of this year,” said Martin.


Townhall II received a $10,000 grant from the United Way to help fund the students' projects.


“We’ve held the summit for three years, and feel it is very important and worthwhile,” stated Karyn Kravetz, Associate Director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County. “Youth-led prevention develop young people's knowledge, skills and attitudes to be catalysts for positive change within their school and communities.”

After lunch, the students were able to move to the tunes provided by "DJ Joe" before getting back to work on their plans.


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