LOWELL — Students from North Country Union High and Canaan Schools spoke last week at Kingdom Commons Barn in Lowell, at the Annual Meeting of HealthWorks O.N.E./NEKLS Coalition.
The 2016 Recognition Awards went to Courtney Blanchard, a senior at Canaan School and to Nathan Grimm, a senior at North Country Union High School, with Dana Mitchell, a graduate of North County and presently a student at Lyndon State College helping with the awards.
Mitchell is currently conducting an online survey of recent NCUHS students as the youth representative on the HealthWorks Advisory Council.
Blanchard was the recipient of the 2016 Scholarship Essay Contest award, and she read her winning essay about policies that she would use to decrease alcohol use by youth.
She advocated for mental wellness programs in elementary schools because “if children were taught to deal with stress in an appropriate manner and at a younger age, it would help them deal with these problems in a much more positive way later on…They need to learn the skills to deal with pressure, rather than turn to substances to hide away”.
In another student essay, Adrianna Maurais of Canaan wrote, “If we actually took into account the amount of destructive ads we are all exposed to, we would be astounded…no one ever shows what really happens as a result of excessive drinking smoking and/or substance abuse. Children are the most vulnerable and easily manipulated.”
Maurais’ essay was read at the Newport Planning Commission the following night, where Mitchell and HealthWorks prevention specialists Lesley Becker and Paul Dreher spoke about decreasing youth exposure to alcohol advertising by limiting signage.
Dreher discussed a recent ordinance in Winooski limiting advertising in windows or doors of storefronts, for the purpose of improving the appearance of the downtown.
Discussion at the HealthWorks meeting included results of the Vermont 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showing the most frequent way that youth say they get alcohol is that someone gave it to them.
Possible solutions were to restrict sales of alcohol at public events or limiting hours when alcohol consumption is allow in parks or beaches.
This coming summer and fall, Coalition partners and the community are invited to join Action Teams on Policy and Media to work on these and related issues.
Please contact HealthWorks@neklsvt.org if you are interested in joining.