Teens in Union County are invited to a pep rally this afternoon meant to encourage a summer of drug-free fun.
Stephanie Owens, community engagement coordinator with eXtreme Youth Programs, said the organization is putting on its first Union County Prevention Pep Rally at 4 p.m. today in the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center. The event is meant to be a fun way to get the message across to area youth to stay away from drugs and tobacco while they enjoy the summer break, she said.
“We just want to remind the children to live a drug-free life and enjoy the summer and just give them some last minute pointers,” Owens said. “We want to make it fun for them. Get them all together and just let them know how important it is to have a healthy lifestyle.
The pep rally’s special guest will be Shawn Burns, assistant director of spirit programs and head cheer coach at the University of Arkansas.
“He’s really energetic and knows how to get the kids all involved, while spreading the message,” Owens said.
Owens said the idea to hold the pep rally came from a desire to help get eXtreme Youth Programs out in the community more, partnering with other local organizations to help get their name out there.
While the pep rally is meant to focus on a teenage demographic, Owens said any child would be welcome.
“As we know, kids are getting started earlier with drugs, so we just want to try to catch them, put some prevention methods in place,” Owens said.
Aside from drugs, the rally will also focus on keeping children tobacco-free. Owens said they have become more concerned over access to tobacco and nicotine products, especially with the prevalence of e-cigarettes and vaping devices, which often have juices that come in a variety of flavors, including those meant to taste like candy. She also expressed concern over the devices themselves, saying they may not look like traditional tobacco products and parents may not know how to recognize them.
“If we can just spread this information, not only to the children but to their parents,” Owens said. “Some of the devices they’re using look like pens … so if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it may be right under your nose.”
Owens encouraged area parents and children to come out to the rally this afternoon and start the summer with a positive message.
“Bring your children, this is some very valuable information that may save their life in the end,” Owens said. “We just want them to come out and show their support.”
Madeleine Leroux can be reached at 870-862-6611 or [email protected]