Buffalo County Eighth Grade Prevention Day features SOS and Teen Court

The Buffalo County Partnership Council, a coalition of teachers, students, law enforcement, university professors and public health and human services professionals, invited all eighth grade students in Buffalo County from Alma, Cochrane-Fountain City, Gilmanton and Mondovi schools districts to participate in the annual prevention day on February 13, 2024, at the Cochrane-Fountain City School. The program consisted of three parts to help teenagers cope and be resilient as they prepare to transition to high school.

One of the primary sessions at the event was presented by Dyllan Smith, the Buffalo County Public Health educator, who taught eighth graders the Signs of Suicide, or SOS, a suicide prevention program that educates students on the relationship between suicide and depression. A key message of the SOS program is to ACT, or acknowledge you are seeing signs of depression, let your friend know how much you care about them, and tell a trusted adult to get him if you are worried about yourself or others.

Another breakout at 8th grade day was taught by a team of Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court panel members. High School students Zoey Danzinger (Alma), Corbyn Weber (C-FC), Mya Stanton (C-FC), Mya Stewart (Alma), Ashley Bartelt (Alma) conducted a mock hearing. Then, teen court panelists engaged the eighth graders in small group discussions about the implications of poor social media use and the consequences of using THC. Deputy Emily Rybarczyk from the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department also shared about the process for a criminal investigation when young people share illicit photos and use THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Students were able to learn more about the youth restorative justice process in Buffalo and Pepin Counties as part of the session.

The final part of eighth grade day was an interactive game show developed by Alma school youth representatives from the Buffalo County Partnership Council. The game show featured risk behavior questions and answers that aimed to educate middle school students on the impacts of alcohol, drug, nicotine and THC use and abuse. The game show was well received by eighth graders and was a good reminder to apply what they learned at the event.

Eighth grade day is made possible from the support and funding of the Buffalo County Partnership Council (BCPC) whose mission is to “provide collaborative prevention programming to educate youth and their families to make healthy choices and positively influence people and policies.” To learn more about BCPC like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/buffalocountypartnershipcouncil.