Groups partner for 3rd annual Prevention Walk in Hurlock

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Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
The blue tee shirts designate members of the Youth Action Council (YAC) & Partnership for a Drug Free Dorchester. They are hosting the 3rd Annual Prevention Walk in Hurlock on June 11 at 9 am. The day is by and for young people to call attention to substance abuse, including alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, and how to prevent it.

HURLOCK — What would you rather do…? Take a walk? At the April 25 Hurlock Town Council meeting the Youth Action Council (YAC) & Partnership for a Drug Free Dorchester invited north Dorchester residents to take a walk. A very special walk – The 3rd annual “Prevention Walk” scheduled for June 11 at 9 am.

Charlene Jones, AOD Abuse Prevention supervisor with the Dorchester County Department of Health directs the YAC to give middle and high school students a voice by addressing substance abuse issues they see in Dorchester County.

According to their website, “YAC exists because they know what it is like for other youth, more so than adults, because they are living it right this moment. They know what’s going on and adults see it from the outside looking in. Making changes among youth is more powerful and influential when it comes from their peers.”

Basically, the concept is simple: “Youth working together to stop underage substance abuse.

YAC exists because youth know what it is like for other youth, more so than adults, because we are living it right this moment. Youth know what is going on and adults see it from the outside looking in. Making changes among youth is more powerful and influential when it comes from their peers.”

At the town meeting Ms. Jones deferred to several YAC Members who had accompanied her to get the message across that these teens are in control of their own lives. One high school junior explained the Prevention Walk is scheduled for Hurlock this year. “We’ve had two previously in the Cambridge area,” she said. The walk will start at Collins Avenue and end at the ballfield. She said the group is “Asking that the police department help support them and keep them safe.” Hurlock police chief Michael Henry readily agreed to work closely with the sponsoring group and his department will be on the job the day of the walk.

Ms. Jones explained that 50 people walked at the previous two events with over 80 participating in the event throughout the day. “We typically bring vendors who offer summer program and educational information. “We have music with a DJ. Last year we did Zumba dancing so everyone can join in and participate. It may not be Zumba exercise this year but it will be similar. There’s dancing for everyone and it’s pretty engaging.”

“If you want to provide food as a vendor we leave that up to other people. We do provide a breakfast bar and plenty of water. If someone else wants to sell food then they are responsible for the permits with the health department and the town. That way no liability is on us (Health Department) or the young people.”

The participants will walk on sidewalks, not in the street. The stay to one side and have planned the walk so it does not interfere with traffic. “In the last two years we haven’t had any incidents,” said Ms. Jones. “Our walks have gone off without any problems. We had one incident at an actual event but nobody knew what happened. I didn’t even know what happened because our law enforcement just moved right on in and we kept on going.”

The day is by and for young people to call attention to substance abuse, including alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, and how to prevent it. These youngsters can say, “I am in control,” and mean it.

As a high school junior explained, “our slogan is ‘I’d rather …’ ” which means you would rather do this than drink or smoke. That goes along with “I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs because I’d rather hang out with my friends, or my family, or play kickball or any other activity than drink or smoke.”

This is a family event. Ms. Jones emphasized that it is a “parent and child activity. We don’t just want the children to come out but we want them with their families.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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