Whatcom Prevention Coalition’s Youth Matter Summit honors positive actions

Youth matter; they are vital members of our community. While we often notice their negative behaviors, skateboarding on sidewalks, speeding down alleyways or cutting class, the truth is that many youth are working hard to make their communities a better place. They’re raising awareness about the dangers of drunken driving, spreading the message about the harmful effects of smoking, talking to store owners about the impact of alcohol ads on minors and persuading city council members to adopt stronger laws regarding the sale of marijuana-infused edibles.

I think it’s time we recognize youth for all the positive things they are doing in Whatcom County. Need some convincing? Here are just a few of the things they’ve been up to this year.

The Squalicum Health Alliance changed the smoking policy at the Northwest Washington Fair. Upset with smoke-filled fair grounds, they approached the board with information about the dangers of second-hand smoke. The fair board responded by limiting smoking to a few designated areas, drastically reducing the amount of second-hand smoke.

The Vista Middle School Natural High Club went to the city council with their concerns about the increased availability of marijuana-infused edibles. In their presentation they highlighted the negative impacts of marijuana on the developing brain and the chance of accidental overdose for youth that get their hands on edibles.

The Bellingham High School MAD HOPE team is working to reduce youth suicide by offering suicide prevention trainings throughout Whatcom County. Several attendees have already intervened to save the life of a loved one.

I invite you to join me in recognizing these incredible youth at the annual Youth Matter Summit. The event will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Community members are invited to attend and can register at www.surveymonkey.com/s/YouthMatter2015.

If you’re not able to make it to the event I invite you to notice one positive thing that a youth in your community is doing and to recognize him/her for that action. It only takes a moment, but it can have a lasting impact.