Youth learn leadership roles at summit

By By Karlie Wright, Curry County Commission on Children & Families November 03, 2010 05:00 am

Student leaders listen at the SOCYL Youth Summit. Photo by Karlie Wright
PORT ORFORD — Approximately 300 high school students from throughout Curry County became “SOCYL’s Most Wanted” for a day at Pacific High School.

The fourth-annual Youth Summit focused on the role of law enforcement and its relationship with the youth in the community.

The event was hosted by the Curry County Commission on Children and Families, Curry County Drug Free Communities Coalition, and Southern Oregon Coast Youth Leaders (SOCYL). It took place Oct. 27. This is the second time the event was held at Pacific High School in Port Orford.

The Youth Summit is a product of the imagination and work of SOCYL, which includes youth leaders from each of the three high schools in the county.

Representing the leadership from Brookings-Harbor High School were Eli Bruce, Meredith Horel, Jessica Gardner and Kayla Webre; from Gold Beach High School were Anna Walling, Haley Timeus, McKenzie Litterell, Austin Adams and Tristan Morgan; from Pacific High School were Tim Wagner, Leah Purkerson, Katie Foster and Kaylee Ells.

The youth and the SOCYL advisors from each school began planning this year’s summit last January. Preparation for the summit included selecting a speaker, theme, design/concept, and breakout session presenters. The SOCYL team was assisted by Curry County Commission on Children and Families staff who supported the creative processes of the students.

The keynote speaker was Russ Peak, an Oregon resident who spoke about making good decisions and facing life’s challenges in a healthy, positive way.

The day also included nine breakout session options, each using different ways to address major issues that plague high school youth.

•The “Chew on This” session focused on the dangers of chewing tobacco, presented by Curry County’s tobacco prevention coordinator Heather Eller.

•“Save a Friend” concentrated on helping to identify when friends or acquaintances may be deeply depressed or contemplating suicide. It was led by Melissa Weinblatt.

•“Girls Cafe,” led by Bronwyn Greathead, encouraged female participants to use art and words in offering positive messages to middle school girls.

•“Traveling through the System” included Sheriff John Bishop, Juvenile Director Ken Dukek, District Attorney Everett Dial, and Judge Cynthia Beaman as a question-and-answer panel explaining the Juvenile Justice System.

•“R-U Up for the Challenge” was organized by Wendy Lang and Mona Chandler from the Curry County Juvenile Department. They led youth in a series of team-building exercises, including “Peanut Butter Ping Pong” and “Alphabetizing ABC Spaghetti O’s.”

•“First on Scene” was presented by First Responder Gayle Wilcox. She told about accidents involving teens she had witnessed and the dangers of drugs and alcohol, texting or talking on cell phones, and driving.

•“Curry County Search & Rescue” was led by Lt. John Ward, Deputy Ted Heath and Logan Couch. They explained what the search and rescue team does, how to be safe when in the wilderness, and what to do if lost while hunting, fishing or four-wheeling.

•“SOCYL’s Mix it Up” was led by SOCYL advisors Kristy Kleespies and Jennifer Miller, who hosted a variety of ice-breaker games to help students from different schools get to know each other.

•“Relationships, Goals, and Self Reliance” was hosted by Riley Creek School Counselor Holly Stephens. It was an opportunity for youth to discuss relationships, priorities, and general teen issues among their peers, while learning how unhealthy relationships might damage their future.

Every teen received a T-shirt with SOCYL’s “Most Wanted” logo, as well as packets of information about resources and healthy lifestyles, courtesy of the Curry County Commission on Children and Families.