Jefferson County students come together to tackle issues affecting kids their age

Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 5:34 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - It may have been their day off, but that didn’t stop some Jefferson County students from working to make a change in their community.

“Almost every school district in Jefferson County is represented here today, including home school,” said Youth Alliance of Jefferson County Task Force Coordinator Heidi Williams.

After an assortment of activities and listening to guest speakers, students broke into discussion groups. Their goal? tackling issues prevalent within their age group, ages 12-17.

In their words:

“I think the biggest issue would be peer pressuring,” said Adrian Tweedy.

“I think out of my entire class of 40 kids, I think 3 of us don’t vape,” said Ethan Brennan.

Overall, students determined substance abuse, particularly vaping, was the most common issue faced by their age group.

“We just wanted to see where they’re accessing that and what we can do so they know the dangers to the youth brain,” said Youth Alliance Program Director Tammie Nabywaniec.

One student says he hopes events like this become more common in the future.

“I think talking to people and letting them know the information that needs to be given out on how this isn’t safe, why it’s bad. It just helps people,” said 14-year-old Carson Brownell.

Anita Seefried-Brown with the Alliance for Better Communities tells us these efforts will continue throughout the coming months.

“This is the beginning and the official auftaucht for lack of a better word,” said Seefried-Brown.

The summit may have wrapped up at 4:15 PM Saturday, but we’re told work won’t end here. In fact, it’ll be making its way to the classroom.

“There will be coalitions created at all schools across jefferson County. We’ll meet with them at least once a month and we’ll continue to work on the information we gathered here,” said Celia Cook of the Youth Alliance of Jefferson County.

The Youth Alliance will be holding another summit this October.