Teen Summit has healthy advice for area 8th-graders
The annual Teen Summit taught Carroll County eighth-graders that the more they know, the more power they have over their lives.
Organized by the Carroll County Hometown Health Coalition, the event gathered eighth-graders from Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest into Bobcat Arena on Wednesday to learn how to make healthy choices, help others and have confidence in themselves.
Renée Allison, chairwoman of the hometown health coalition, said the Teen Summit featured six presenters this year, including
Chad Pratt of Reality Check Inc., Kristina Carnes from the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, April Perry from The Purple Flower, Cody Tatum from Grandma’s House Children’s Advocacy Center, Dave Warmoth from North Arkansas Regional Medical Center EMS and Denny Waters, who spoke about prescription drug abuse.
The presenters discussed issues facing the lives of young people, Allison said, such as cyberbullying, sexting, drug abuse and healthy relationships.
“Hopefully, some of the students will take something away from today,” she said. “We try to do this in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week. The theme this year is ‘the key to life is staying drug free,’ so we’re looking at how the key to success is knowledge because knowledge empowers you.”
Waters spoke to the students about his personal experience with prescription drug abuse, saying he started experimenting with drugs between eighth and 10th grades.
“When I was in eighth grade, I was just like all of you guys. I loved life,” he said. “As eighth-graders right now, some of you may have already experimented with drugs.”
Waters said making the choice to experiment with drugs will ultimately limit the other choices someone can make in their life. As he abused drugs, he said he withdrew socially and started to struggle in school.
“When you start doing drugs, your choices start going down and down,” he said. “I’m here to tell you that the minute you start, your life is getting ready to change. I went from being voted ‘Class Favorite’ to, within two years, no one knew who I was.”
Warmoth taught the students how to perform CPR in emergency situations, noting that chest compressions are more critical than mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
“We don’t do anything else but compressions,” he said. “If you don’t breathe for them, there’s still enough residual oxygen from the last breath they took to be circulated throughout the body. They have six to 10 minutes of oxygen left in the body, and all we’re doing is circulating it.”
Warmoth said statistics show how much better off a patient is when someone performs CPR versus doing nothing.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” he said. “As long as we can keep the air moving around in the body, it works.”
The summit also had several booths set up for local health resources and youth groups.
Jamie Houghton, youth leader for the 7:07 youth program at Forerunner House of Prayer in Green Forest, said the teen summit is a great outreach event because almost every eighth-grader in Carroll County is there.
Zakk Favors, 7:07 worship leader, said they ask students if they have a church and offer to contact them if they’re interested in attending one.
“We’re not trying to steal people away from other churches,” he said, “and we don’t make them put down their number.”
“We only call if they don’t have a church and are interested in attending one,” Houghton said. “We just call and connect them with fun people if they don’t have anything going on.”
“7:07 is a lot of fun,” Favors said. “I’ve been going there about seven years now, and it’s been life-changing.”
Local students said they learned a lot from the Teen Summit about how to lead healthy lives.
Nathan Edwards of Berryville said the students were taught how to keep their lives on the right path and how to learn from mistakes they might make in order to make their lives better.
“I think it might help a lot of people in these school districts out,” he said. “One speaker gave this big talk about self-worth, and I thought ‘Wow. A lot of people should hear that right now.’ ”
Mackenzie Sulffrie and Lily Lockman of Eureka Springs said students learned to be aware of what they post online and not to let their pasts define them.
“I liked the CPR video the most,” Lockman said.
Allison said the hometown health coalition is grateful to the schools for letting them use Bobcat Arena and for taking a day out of their schedules to allow students to come listen to the presenters.
“I think it’s empowering for the children to be given a day out of class to learn about things that are not covered in the curriculum,” she said.
She said the Carroll County Senior Activity and Wellness Center prepared lunch for the students, and the Berryville Rotary Club served the food.
“Tyson donated the chicken, and the vegetables in our salad came from our Giving Garden at the community center,” Allison said. “We’re so thankful to everyone who donated time and prizes for the event. The summit would not be possible without our speakers, our coalition members and the schools coming together to help educate our students in Carroll County.”