POINT PLEASANT — Approximately 35 youth had a day filled with learning activities that are not offered during a typical school day.
The 17th annual Mason County Teen Institute was recently held at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Point Pleasant, sponsored by the Mason County Family Resource Network (FRN).
Youth who attended were divided into groups – elementary students and high school students. The students were excused from school for the day and were provided with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Throughout the day, the students had the opportunity to experience eight different training sessions including a discussion with inmates from Lakin Correctional facility; a tobacco prevention seminar; a drunk driving simulator; a team building exercise with West Virginia University (WVU) Extension; a Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) seminar along with trying out intoxication glasses; exposure to drug dogs; Eat Smart, Be Active seminar; and a pregnancy prevention seminar for the older group of students.
FRN Executive Director Greg Fowler shared the students responded well to all of the day’s events, especially the discussion with the inmates. He said the students found the stories told by the inmates profound and this year the elementary students asked several questions during the discussion.
Another big hit of the day was the youth’s exposure to the drug dogs. Two separate dogs were introduced, a milder breed, the Labrador Retriever, who the children were allowed to pet once the demonstration of drug detection was finished and a more aggressive breed, the Malinois, who the children were not permitted to touch. The Malinois is trained to bring down non-compliant perpetrators and if signaled to attack, the Malinois will not release its grip unless told.
While the elementary students were seeing the drug dogs, the high school students were attending a pregnancy prevention seminar. Also discussed was the risk of exposure to multiple partners in relation to sexually transmitted diseases.
Following dinner and clean up, Band of Brothers, a band from Parkersburg, performed on stage in the church gym with the dance floor open.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.