COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)—Nearly 400 South Carolina middle school and high school students spent Friday learning how to deal with the problems they might run into as teenagers. The 13th annual Teen Health Summit was sponsored by Palmetto Health in Columbia and was held at Dreher High School.
Program coordinator Talarria Jackson says the summit teaches young people about risky behaviors like smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs, and premarital sex, and gives them strategies that go beyond just saying “no.”
“We tell them about the decision-making process,” she says. “We know that, for us, we teach them what’s called the three-step process, your three Cs. So you have your challenge, you have your choice, and then you have your consequences. When you’re in a difficult situation, think about refusal skills. What are some quick ways that you can get out of that situation? You know, oftentimes young people just don’t know what happened. Peer pressure is real, and we want them to know that they have an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to go to the mall.’ ‘Oh, my mom is calling me.’ ‘Oh, this has happened.’ So those are instances where we want them to use those skills to avoid those risky behaviors.”
There are large group sessions and smaller breakout sessions, some just for girls and some just for boys.
14-year-old Tyler Wesley was at the summit for the third year. He says it helps teens deal with things, “Like peer pressure. They feel like they’re forced to do things like alcohol or drugs or different things that they really don’t have to do. And they can come here to talk to adults and see what things they can do to get out of those situations.”
14-year-old Imani Moye was also here for a third year. “I can learn things that my parents might want me to know but it’s kinda awkward to talk to them about it, so it’s easier just to come here,” she says. “Like peer pressure and like not doing drugs and stuff. You don’t want to hear it from them, but people here have real-life stories that they can tell, which really makes you not want to do it. So it makes it easier.”
Since the Teen Health Summit started in 2004, more than 5,200 teens have attended.