STMS students discuss community issues
Instead of relying on experts for answers, sometimes it’s best to seek solutions straight from the source.
That’s what Lynn Nolin is doing in an effort to get teens and adults talking about some of the issues affecting the health and well-being of the South Shore community.
Nolin is the project director for the Community Engagement Process. Her job is to get people talking about and solving problems that tear neighborhoods and communities apart.
Following a door-to-door survey last October focusing on adolescent delinquency and crime, she collaborated Friday with South Tahoe Middle School’s Club Live Director, Larry Lambdin for a brainstorm session with about 35 teen-agers.
“We’ve done this with the Boys and Girls Club, at the high school and with other groups,” Nolin said, after splitting the students up in groups of five to discuss results of the survey. “This is all about getting people to discuss what they think solutions are to some of the problems facing this community.”
Results of the survey were surprising to many. The biggest problems at South Shore, according to teen-agers surveyed last fall in the Bijou and Tahoe Valley area, are the lack of jobs for teens and drug abuse and alcohol addiction.
“Drugs and alcohol are really bad here,” said Kylie Novasel, 12. “Have you ever been to the lower lot at the high school? It’s disgusting. I know a lot of kids here at the middle school that skip class just so they can smoke.”
Why are so many children addicted? Some say it all goes back to their upbringing.
“I think parents really influence their children,” said Ashley Kern, 12. “Why should a kid not smoke or do drugs if they see their parents doing it all the time? It’s just stupid to assume they would not.”
One group of students agreed that the lack of jobs for teens contributes a great deal to the drug and alcohol problem.
“They just need to start hiring us for jobs. We’re not asking to be brain surgeons, a job at a donut shop is fine,” said 13-year-old Evan Gordon. “They should lower the age for teens to get jobs because we’re responsible enough to hold down a job by age 12 or 13.”
The Club Live members, a group whose activities include embellishing the school’s property with murals and landscaping as well as charity work and fund-raising, spent an hour after school answering questions and seeking solutions.
“We need to involve these kids in order to solve our problems,” Lambdin said. “They must be part of the solution.”
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