Youth survey shows more kids use tobacco locally

In Houghton and Keweenaw counties, 14.2 percent of high school seniors use chewing tobacco, with an additional 19.4 percent smoking cigarettes. This might not seem like such a bad number but compared to the national norms, in which only 6.1 percent use chewing tobacco and 11.4 percent smoke cigarettes, it is a concern.

The national norm of depressive symptoms for 12th grade is 33 percent. In Houghton and Keweenaw counties, that percentage is increased to 40. As you can see, the youth in Houghton and Keweenaw counties are, again, well above the national norms.

Statistics like these made me want to get more involved with the Houghton-Keweenaw Communities That Care (CTC) coalition. Part of the CTC model is doing a local survey of kids in eighth, 10th, and 12th grades. Our first survey took place in  2016, we are using those survey results to see what kind of work we can do as a community to curb these trends. Why? Because if kids think these things are not a threat to their health now, other dangerous activities are proven to be much more likely to occur.

My name is Hayley Beaudoin, and I am the chair of the CTC’s Youth Involvement group. I am a junior at Dollar Bay High School. My mom dragged me to my first meeting with the CTC, but once I heard what they were doing and had planned for the future it made me want to become a part of something bigger than myself. Since then, I have  promoted the CTC through radio interviews, active participation in public presentations, and promoting Drug Take-Back Day.

In the upcoming months, we are planning to raise awareness of the CTC and its model as well as fundraisers to help offset the costs of evidence-based programs that are provided in our local schools. Furthermore, we will be seen around several local area events and parades. We will be proudly displaying our new logo which was designed by Houghton High School student, Inseo Yoon. Inseo is currently working with a Finlandia University graphic arts professor, Tom Adolphs, to put the finishing touches on our logo, which we feel fully embraces the people and culture of Houghton and Keweenaw counties.

Our Youth Involvement group is also involved in such community efforts as working with the Western UP Health Department on the Synar Tobacco Vendor Education program. Our group is responsible for visiting local vendors to help raise awareness of youth tobacco laws, which prohibit selling tobacco to minors. We are also developing new ideas and creating a solid message about the CTC’s goal of empowering youth through education with in-school presentations that are written and presented by the Youth Involvement group.

Communities That Care (CTC) is a locally led pro-active coalition that has been adopted in Houghton and Keweenaw counties along with hundreds of communities throughout the world to develop a supportive, safe community, that empowers youth through education, positive relationships, healthy beliefs and clear standards. If you would like to learn more about the CTC, the Youth Involvement group, or any other CTC workgroup, please contact Mary LeDoux (Houghton-Keweenaw CTC Coordinator) at 906-482-9077 or by email at houghtonkeweenawctc@gmail.com. You can also visit www.HoughtonKeweenawCTC.com or the Houghton-Keweenaw CTC Facebook page, or email me, Hayley Beaudoin, at hayleybctc@gmail.com for more information.

Hayley Beaudoin is a junior at Dollar Bay High School. She is the chairwoman of the Houghton-Keweenaw CTC Youth Involvement group. She is involved in school sports, enjoys spending time with family and  her 5-month-old Shetland Sheepdog, Bentley.

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