Youth Action Team gears up for return to school
by Mark Andrews
Jul 27, 2012 | 1505 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Scott Sherwin, Bartow Youth Action Team advisor, facilitates Thursday’s planning meeting for the upcoming school year.   SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Scott Sherwin, Bartow Youth Action Team advisor, facilitates Thursday’s planning meeting for the upcoming school year. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
Wyatt West and Victoria Grubbs are among the 27 students on the Bartow Youth Action Team representing various area middle and high schools. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Wyatt West and Victoria Grubbs are among the 27 students on the Bartow Youth Action Team representing various area middle and high schools. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
As middle school and high school students face the ongoing pressures associated with growing up, the Bartow Youth Action Team currently is preparing to help open the doors of communication between parents and their children as well as to encourage healthy and positive lifestyles.

"This isn't about having something that looks good on your college resume -- it's about helping people," advisor Christa Layton said to a small group Thursday.

The group's mission statement is "to mobilize and equip the Bartow community with information and strategies needed to promote positive youth development, improve community conditions and address issues associated with the community."

Operated and funded through various service organizations such as the Bartow Teen Center, the group is looking at its budget and planning themes throughout the upcoming school year to coincide with events like Red Ribbon Week.

Adairsville High School students Victoria Grubbs and Wyatt West said while students face pressures ranging from drugs and alcohol to sexual relationships, they feel the Youth Action Team will have a positive effect on the community and provide students and parents with information and resources to educate themselves on the various dangers that exist for young people in Bartow.

"It's talked about a lot where people go to parties and they get wasted and there's weed there and stuff, but I don't go to parties like that. I don't see the need to," West, an upcoming senior, said. "I think [the Youth Action Team] could help save some people from going to parties and messing up their lives."

Both West and Grubbs said they find other ways of beating the summer heat and blowing off steam after a hard week at school beyond using drugs or alcohol. For example, going bowling or playing various games with a group of friends.

"You know what's at the parties and you can still have fun in different ways," West said.

The organization currently has 27 student members representing the various middle and high schools in the city and county.

Grubbs said for Adairsville, she believes the pressures of drugs and alcohol are cultural.

"... People have their traditions and the way they've done things for years -- it's definitely a family thing if the family has passed it down. And, of course, if your friends think it's cool, you're going to go along with it," Grubbs, an upcoming junior, said. "... I'm making the decision for myself to not do drugs, not to drink and just kind of be positive, and I want other people to see that and see our Youth Action Team being positive so that they'll be positive or at least it will be in their minds."

Ideas discussed during the meeting included a theme called "real talk," where middle school students could speak with older high school students about their concerns and the pressures surrounding middle school life. Another was simply titled "the talk," which would consist of a parent meeting to be held at South Central Middle School that would encourage parents to talk to their children about sex.

During the upcoming high school open house events, the organization will pass out cards which state "alcohol is a drug" in an effort to spread awareness of the effects of alcohol on young minds and bodies.

Advisor Brad Gilmore said while all young people face negative influences, the Youth Action Team is a testament to the efforts and positivity of a number of youth in the community.

"One of the big positives [of local youth] is to identify some of the problems and a willingness to help out with them," Gilmore said, "not just back away from it or shy away from it, but actively face it, identify the problems and attempt to do something about it."

For more information on the Youth Action Team or to become involved, contact Scott Sherwin at 678-721-5922.