Skittle Skool gives kids tools to deal with ‘hidden dangers’

Drugs, cyberbullying, safe dating all topics covered by Skittle Skool

It’s harder than ever to be a teenager these days and educators want to help kids find ways of dealing with tough situations, said Stephanie Everett, public relations and marketing director/administrator in training for the Mountrail County Health Foundation/Mountrail County Health System.

Last week the Mountrail County Health Foundation, the Stanley Park District and Stanley High School teamed up to offer “Skittle Skool II” to seventh through 12th graders.

Kids at area schools heard from presenters on a variety of topics, from how to respond and recognize human trafficking, the dangers of drug use, when to call 911 in response to a drug overdose and the dangers of Nar-Can usage, how to respond to handle mental health issues, safe sex, abstinence, the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and the importance of receiving the HPV vaccination to help protect against cervical cancer; healthy dating relationships and cyberbullying.

Everett said the Mountrail County Medical Center found that the need for mental health services and the problem of alcohol use and abuse were found to be two major needs when it recently conducted its Community Health Needs Assessment. Skittle Skool addressed these issues and others.

Motivational speaker Jeff Yalden was brought in to speak to students at Stanley, Powers Lake, Parshall, New Town, Berthold and Plaza last week. Twenty presenters spoke on different topics.

Everett said they heard area educators are seeing more problems among teens including self harm such as cutting themselves in response to emotional pain and suicidal tendencies, and bullying by other kids online.

Addiction to cell phones is also a continuing problem. Many kids are never without their cell phones, even in the middle of the night.

Area families are also under a lot of stress. Everett said broken families and parents working multiple jobs can mean that parents are tired and crabby when they come home and kids don’t talk with their parents about the problems in their own lives.

According to Everett, one kid wrote on an informational form for Skittle Skool last year, “I think they need to talk more about how to deal with these situations rather than just say NOT to do them. Talk about HOW we should handle depression and anxiety. Not just these are some of the things that happen or the symptoms.”

Skittle School was designed to give kids tools to help successfully respond to some of these “hidden dangers” in their lives.