Teen summit to focus on curbing underage drinking

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 12:27 am on Saturday, January 21, 2012

GOWEN — Got choice? Got conviction? Got connection?
The Montcalm Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking (MCPUD) wants to ask local youths these questions and get their feedback.
MCPUD is hosting the Got It? Youth Summit from 1 p.m. March 17 to 1 p.m. March 18 at Lincoln Lake Baptist Camp near Gowen. The free, non-religious event aims to empower local youths who are interested in promoting health and safety through the prevention of underage drinking.
Ninth- through 12th-graders throughout the area are encouraged to participate in the overnight session of brainstorming and outdoor activities.
“It’s going to be very student-interactive,” said Greenville Community Church Pastor of Student Ministries Paul Spittka, who is a MCPUD volunteer. “There’s going to be a lot of community building. We’re trying to make it interesting, innovative and involved. It’s not going to be your normal youth summit.”
The event will feature weather-appropriate youth activities, as well as meals and lodging. One adult for every eight youths will serve as chaperones.
Shannon Cohen of the Kent County Prevention Coalition will be the keynote speaker.
John Kroneck is the Montcalm County coordinator for Cherry Street Health Promotion Services in Stanton, one of the event’s sponsors. He said the youth summit will provide a place for teens to gather with like-minded peers to discuss challenges and solutions.
He also hopes teens will help MCPUD develop a website and social networking options as tools to gather and share ideas about drug-free living.
“There are a lot of young people who have little or no interest in using alcohol, tobacco or any other drugs,” Kroneck said. “In fact, most teens don’t use alcohol, tobacco and drugs. What we hear most about, however, revolves around those who are using alcohol or other drugs. MCPUD would like to turn that around and recognize the positive choices teens are making.”
Norma Sower is the community programs coordinator for United Lifestyles, an entity of Spectrum Health United Memorial in Greenville, one of the event’s sponsors.
She attends several conferences and leaves with one of two outcomes: “Yawning, feeling like I could have better spent my time elsewhere” or  “supercharged, ready to go back to work with new skills and fresh energy.”
Sower hopes youth leave the MCPUD summit feeling the latter.
“Students will leave with fresh ideas, enthusiasm and a sense that they have community commitment behind them,” she said.
The youth summit is free, but space is limited. The deadline to apply is Feb. 15. Call Kroneck at (989) 831-4591 or Spittka at (616) 225-2105 for more information, or fill out an application at www.mcpud.org or www.dfmc.info online.

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