On Tuesday, the Fayette County Prevention Coalition and The Warehouse Youth Center came together to host an evening with YOUTH TO YOUTH International and Be Present Ohio. Young people from the community attended the event and enjoyed games, motivational presentations and more.
Drug Free Communities Director Kylena France said she thought the event “would be a good kind of experience for the kids.” She said the goal of the evening was to “bring the kids together and just have fun.”
Warehouse Director Abby Fitch said she decided to hold the event at The Warehouse in Washington C.H. because “we’re looking for different ways to include The Warehouse into things” and “our focus is youth so it kind of makes sense to partner with the prevention coalition.”
YOUTH TO YOUTH, which was founded in Columbus in 1982, is “a community-based drug prevention and youth leadership program focusing primarily on middle school and high school students. The goal of its many projects is harnessing the powerful influence of peer pressure—making it a positive force that encourages young people to live free of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs,” according to the program’s website.
Be Present Ohio is a marketing campaign from Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services that “educates and empowers peers, friends, classmates and siblings of at-risk youth to ‘step up’ and provide needed support. It also makes youth more aware of and able to address their own emotional state,” according to the campaign’s website.
The first speaker of the evening was Javier Sanchez. His message for the young people in the audience was “positive change can happen through you.” He also told them that “your teenage years don’t have to be something you just survive” and focused on the importance of taking care of themselves, saying, “Before you can take care of other people, you have to learn to take care of yourselves.”
Sanchez gave his audience some paper and tape and instructed them to create a storm shelter. They worked together to create one, and Sanchez shared his own experience with failing to prepare for a storm while living in the Cayman Islands and he said, “The people that weathered the storms best are the ones that actually prepared in them.” Sanchez said this statement holds true for all of the “storms” life can send our way.
Sanchez shared four simple tips for dealing with moments of crisis and “fear of failure and pressure to perform.” His first tip was to pause and “take time to think.” His next step was to breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth.
He explained, “When we’re having a moment that takes our breath away… we have to take our breath back.” Next, he recommended smiling because “when you smile, it actually releases chemicals from your brain into your body called dopamine and endorphins, and they are called feel-good chemicals.” His last tip was to “go to your source of strength.” He said this source could be any number of things from prayer to meditation to exercise to The Warehouse.
Sanchez said his presentation is “all about teaching your people to be present for themselves so that they can be present for their friends, their communities and their families.”
Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2