Grant County teens train in Nashville

<p>Grant County Safe Communities youth representatives get together for dinner during their trip to the July Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America convention in Nashville, Tenn. From left, Trejan Speth, Dawson Quinton, Cheyenne Perkins and Daryl Ann Waltenburg.</p>


CANYON CITY – Four Grant County youth know more about “the what,” “the where” and “the whys” of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as solutions, after attending a Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) convention.

Cheyenne Perkins and Daryl Ann Waltenburg, seniors at Dayville School, and Grant Union Junior-Senior High School freshman Dawson Quinton and eighth-grader Trejan Speth attended the July 23-27 event in Nashville, Tenn.

Sponsored by Grant County Safe Communities Coalition, the students joined nearly 450 other youth as they were trained in community problem solving by National Youth Leadership Initiative representatives, a high school student and two college students.

The theme was “Youth Led, Adult Guided.”

“I learned how to reach out to the youth,” said Waltenburg.

She and Perkins and others are starting up a Youth Coalition at their school, similar to the coalition at Grant Union.

Perkins said that youth mainly hear alcohol and drug prevention messages from parents and other adults.

“I think if the teens hear it from other teenagers that they would take it into consideration – that it’s not OK,” she said.

Speaking at the August Safe Communities meeting, Perkins showed how they use the CADCA “Seven Strategies for Community Change” model to analyze problems and make goals to address community issues.

She said their group chose marijuana as the biggest problem affecting Grant County youth and said that legalization of medical marijuana is the primary reason for the problem. Cardholders growing extra to sell, parents telling youth it is OK to use, and wanting to fit in were other reasons the youth cited as why some young people are using marijuana.

Solutions their group came up with included: informing parents about the dangers of marijuana use, increasing fines for illegal marijuana use and sales and increasing law enforcement patrols.

“These are their ideas – they did an amazing job,” said Devin Moan, director of Commission on Children and Families who helped chaperone the local students along with Jamie McKay, who is administrative assistant in the CCF office.

Moan noted the four youth made a poster and presented their ideas to the large group at the convention.

“It was great,” Quinton said. “I learned a lot, and I think it will help.”

He said the Seven Strategies model taught them how to break up the larger problem statement “into a bunch of little problems.”

“You can use it with any problem in life,” Perkins said.

Speth said the convention gave them experiences which will benefit their organization.

“It definitely made me a better leader,” he said.

Grant Union Youth Coalition meetings are held the first and third Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Outpost Restaurant.

“We’re helping others and having fun with it,” Quinton said.

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