More than 40 parents, community leaders and teens from five different high schools gathered on Nov. 28 for a #TeenTalk event. The Palm Beach Substance Awareness Coalition along with Teen Coalition in Action (TCIA) members partnered with Royal Palm Beach High School Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) to host the event.
With vaping, marijuana and underage drinking being among the top issues facing teens today, the event’s goal was to bring teens, parents and community leaders together to affect positive change. In attendance were representatives from local schools, law enforcement, fire-rescue, health experts and youth-serving organizations.
TCIA members Chloe Cauldron, an RPBHS 11th grader, and Andrea Valencia, a Wellington High School 11th grader, delivered an introductory presentation on the growing vape epidemic in schools among teens. Parents and students joined together in groups in an interactive roundtable discussion. Parents were instructed to listen while taking notes as SWAT and TCIA students described their experiences with their peers. When parents asked how to influence kids not to use e-cigarettes, SWAT member Natalie Paul said, “Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communication is key!”
At the end of the discussion, Reggie Brown of the Department of Health was impressed by what he learned. “I thought I knew everything about vaping, but I didn’t,” Brown said. “These teens gave me a new perspective.”
Instructions were given to each group to create a solution-based idea and present it, emphasizing how their solution minimizes that issue in the community. RPBHS SWAT member Rolondo Hall suggested more compliance checks for alcohol and tobacco to make sure all stores are operating under existing rules and regulations. He suggested that if the store is negligent, a three strikes rule should be applied. Fellow SWAT member Jade Grant presented a cell phone application that would monitor and filter out any drug-related ads from all social media pages seen by teens and young people.