Youth Summit Hopes To Stomp Out Drugs & Alcohol In Maine Schools 

Empowering students to help fight the battle against drugs and alcohol in their schools. That was the topic of an anti-drug summit in Caratunk Wednesday.For years, parents and teachers have been fighting the drug problem in our schools. With the help of a federal grant, a group in Somerset County, the Greater Somerset Public Health Collaborative out of Skowhegan, is trying a different approach. “When we first got the Drug-Free Communities grant at the beginning of last year, we sat down and roughly sketched out some work and had this great idea to do a youth summit,” said Jessica Hebert, one of the youth summit organizers.Tucked away in the small town of Caratunk is a place called Adventure Bound where that idea has become reality.The concept of the youth summit is simple: fight the use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription drugs in schools by enlisting the help of the students. “So they can bring back to their schools some preventative strategies that they can do within their school,” Hebert said.Representatives from grades 9-12 from five different Somerset County schools, Skowhegan, Madison, Forest Hills High School in Jackman, Carrabec, and Bingham were on hand to learn about strategies and resources they can implement in their schools. “It’s more than just coming into speeches, knowing what you already know, hearing what you already know,” said Madison Senior Hunter Clark. “It’s more about learning about yourself and others and how to be open about yourself without chemicals.”Organizers want to make this an annual event in hopes that having students on the front lines of the battle can eventually help stomp out the drug problem once and for all. “It feels good to be a part of something that’s going to help other students and other people in the community find a way that they can get help too,” said Desniege Fortier, a Forest Hills High School Student.