WOOD RIVER — The 2014 Madison County Youth Forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Morris University Center, Meridian Ballroom. This event is open to the public.
The theme for this year’s forum is “Gearing Up For Health,” focusing on issues related to nutrition and physical activity. All Madison County high schools were invited to participate by sending a cross-section of students. Participating schools include Collinsville High School, Edwardsville High School, Granite City High School, Madison High School, Roxana High School and Triad High School.
The 2014 Youth Forum provides an opportunity for teenagers to discuss real issues affecting youth.
“This is a great opportunity to hear suggestions from teens for tackling the issues related to nutrition and physical activity,” Madison County Health Department Health Promotion Manager Amy J. Yeager said.
Prior to the forum, schools participated in surveys to identify problems related to nutrition and physical activity. The students will be welcomed by David Cluphf of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. During the afternoon, students will hear informational and motivational presentations from Maj Luckert, food service director at East Alton-Wood River High School; and Leah Dettmers, sustainability coordinator at Madison County Planning and Development, to inform them of key topic points and engage them in the process of voicing their concerns and creating solutions. The youth participants will spend most of the afternoon in small groups led by Madison County Youth Board members and college students from Eta Sigma Gamma Health Education Honor Society at SIUE creating solutions to the identified problems. In the evening, the students will present their problem statements and recommended solutions to a panel of local officials and the community. The evening session is open to the public.
“We encourage everyone in the community to attend the evening session from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at SIUE Meridian Ballroom to hear what the youth have to say and become part of the movement to help make changes for our youth in Madison County. The best way for these problems to be resolved is to engage youth, citizens, parents, community leaders, and schools in the process and work together for the solutions,” Yeager said.
Student forums have generated change. Previous forums have been successful for changing and enacting policies such as the zero tolerance law (state youth alcohol forum), Breathalyzers at local proms, successful passage of community tobacco ordinances, an attempted passage of a county tobacco ordinance, a potential state bill, the initial development of a county teen center, collaboration with the Madison County sheriff on underage drinking issues including the anonymous tipline (296-3000) to report underage drinking and parties, and changes in county and school policy. Student forums also shift social norms, dispel myths, and generate open conversations about problems that often are ignored, disregarded, or denied.
The moderator this year is Madison County Circuit Clerk Mark Von Nida. The panelists include David Cluphf, professor of kinesiology with a focus on physical education at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Leah Dettmers, sustainability coordinator at Madison County Planning and Development; Amy Funk, air quality project specialist at University of Illinois; Cindy Hartman, registered dietitian at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Highland; Matt Herndon, physical education teacher at Lewis and Clark Junior High School in Wood River; Michelle Lowery, WIC site supervisor (Wood River clinic) and farmer’s market coordinator for Madison County WIC Program; Jean Wagner of A to Z Pediatrics; Marvin Warner, director of school improvement at Madison County Regional Office of Education; and Jennifer Weller, health and medical occupations coordinator at Edwardsville High School and member of Madison County Health Department Health Advisory Committee.
All community members are encouraged to attend the Speakout Session from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, to hear recommendations from youth, listen to their dialogue with the panelists, and become part of the solution by working with the youth and community leaders to make a difference in Madison County.
The forum is possible through coordination from the following: Chestnut Health Systems, Eta Sigma Gamma National Health Education Honor Society-SIUE, Madison County Health Department, Madison County Regional Office of Education, Madison County Schools, Madison County Youth Board, Prevention First, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville- Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. This project is part of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s We Choose Health Initiative, which is made possible by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For information, contact Madison County Health Department Health Promotion Manager Amy J. Yeager at (618) 296-6103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.