(Posted March 2, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
A group of teens dedicated to lifting up their peers is hosting a Teen Night from 6 to 8 p.m. March 10 at the Mount Sterling Community Center, 164 E. Main St.
The event is open to Madison County students in grades 9-12. Admission is free. Plenty of fun activities are planned.
The hosts are members of Madison County Prevention’s youth ambassadors program. Madison County Prevention is an affiliate of Madison County’s Family and Children First Council. The program’s goal is to provide positive activities and tools to enhance teens’ well-being.
The March 10 event will feature a volleyball tournament, the Just Dance video game, a yoga and mindfulness class, and an art class. Creations from the art class will be donated to local organizations, such as senior centers, nursing homes, and daycares. The activities are designed to promote physical health, mind and body enrichment, and generosity.
Kahoots Trivia, Youth MOVE peer-to-peer support groups , prizes, and giveaways also are planned. Refreshments will be available at a small cost.
“It’s a fun opportunity to engage with other youth in Madison County,” said Amanda Hampton, a certified prevention specialist with Madison County Prevention.
Hampton and Larry Newton, who serves on the Counter Drug Task Force with the National Guard, serve as adult allies to the youth ambassador program.
Youth ambassadors hail from all parts of Madison County. Current ambassadors are Isabella Kerry, Sean Johns, Athena Powell, Emma Wethington, Emma Mounts, Mackenna Mitchell, and Ariel Cochrane. Two more students will soon join the ranks.
The group’s Teen Night idea is the result of careful study of their peers’ needs. They started by creating a survey which they distributed to high schoolers across the county during the 2021-22 school year. They learned that teens’ main concerns included mental health, emotional health, and discrimination. Survey respondents pointed to a variety of causes for these concerns, from pandemic-related social distancing and isolation to social media, bullying, relationship troubles, and pressure from school, guardians, and peers. They also mentioned a lack of positive things to do in the county.
During the 2022-23 school year, the ambassadors completed training sessions to learn about risk factors and protective factors and how to improve the overall well-being of themselves and their peers.
“They want to share this information with their peers through positive social engagements, educational platforms, and added support for young people who might be struggling,” Hampton said.
The ambassadors decided to hold quarterly events for high-schoolers, rotating locations among Mount Sterling, West Jefferson, London, and Plain City. The March 10 event in Mount Sterling is their first.
“Afterwards, they will evaluate how things went to see if their short-term and long-term goals are met, then they will start planning for the next event,” Hampton said.
Anyone who would like to know more about the upcoming Teen Night or the Madison County Prevention Youth Ambassadors can contact Amanda Hampton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (740) 852-6342.
The program welcomes anyone who would like to serve as an adult ally, set up a resource table, and/or donate funds or items for giveaways and raffles at the program’s events.