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Editorial: Summit steers youth in positive direction

Mar. 22, 2013 @ 11:42 PM

If only more of West Virginia's youth had gotten a stronger message about resisting drugs and alcohol in years past, perhaps the state's lawmakers would not be wrestling with a serious prison overcrowding problem fueled by substance abuse.

Fortunately, the subject has gained more attention recently, and a perfect example of that was last week's third annual Cabell County Teen Summit. Developed by the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership in collaboration with Cabell County Schools, the summit brought together about 150 middle and high school students to learn how they can become leaders in helping themselves and their peers to resist pressures to use alcohol and drugs.

Workshops at the summit, held at Marshall University, focused on information about illegal substances and the social psychology of peer pressure. It also included a fun and educational game show called "Think Fast."

The damage that drugs and alcohol can do to teens and pre-teens has been well-documented. Not only do those substances impair brain development, they often contribute to poor choices that can either harm young people physically or dim their prospects for successful futures.

Much credit goes to the substance abuse partnership and its project coordinator, Michelle Perdue, for making this event happen, as well as the organization's outreach efforts in local schools throughout the year. A sign that the summit is making an impression is that now, in its third year, past attendees have asked to take a more active role in its planning. That in itself is an indication that young people are soaking up the information and are prepared to do something about it.

In other words, they're learning to lead in a positive direction.



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