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Teens break down barriers

2010-12-14T00:26:00Z 2010-12-14T09:43:42Z Teens break down barriersBy SANJAY TALWANI, Independent Record Helena Independent Record
December 14, 2010 12:26 am  • 

Some high school students are tiring of their peers’ casual attitude toward drugs and alcohol.

“I see kids every day talk about it like it’s no big deal, and it is a big deal,” Denver Pratt, a junior at Helena High School, said in a presentation at Fort Harrison Monday. “I think that we have to change the way that our youth and that our communities look at this drug abuse problem and this alcohol problem, and I think that the way to reach these kids is through us — through their peers and through the youth.”

So Pratt and seven other area students are busy raising funds for a February trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the National Youth Leadership Institute, presented by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

They’ll bring home leadership and problem-solving skills that they can then make use of here in Montana, said Montana Army National Guard Counterdrug Coordinator, Lt. Col. Garth Scott. He and Drenda Carlson, director of Helena Youth Connections Coalition, have been meeting with the teens regularly, planning fundraising and team-building activities and helping organize.

“What we’re doing is breaking down barriers (and) building relationships for stronger healthy communities,” Scott said.

The group has a fundraising event, including a “battle of the bands,” planned for Jan. 15 at the Staggering Ox, along with events related to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Amy Heldt, a sophomore at Helena High School has seen the impact of alcoholism.

“As I got into high school, I started seeing my friends and classmates making the same decisions,” she said. “So the reason dearest to my heart in going on this is to learn ways to prevent this from happening again.”

She’s vice president of a Helena High anti-drug group there with 117 students who have pledged not to use drugs and alcohol.

“There are so many students there who are on drugs or on alcohol just because they want to fit in and they want to be cool,” said Daniela Rosales, also a junior at Helena High.

Also planning to go to Washington in February are Magdylyn Rauser and Jessica Ward of Broadwater High School, and Jessica Newman, Brandon Kosola and Jenna Senechal of Jefferson High School.

The Washington event is Feb. 7-11. The group also expects to meet with members of the Montana congressional delegation.

“And they get to represent Montana, which I think is a great thing on a national level,” said Scott.

Carlson is handling the travel arrangement. Donations for the trip can be sent to the Helena School District Business Center, 55 S. Rodney St., Helena MT 59601 or made by contacting Carlson at 324-1032.

Reporter Sanjay Talwani:

447-4086 or

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. lorilea
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    lorilea - December 17, 2010 11:55 am
    We at the Montana National Guard are very supportive of the youth in our community and our Counter Drug Joint Task Force is one way in which we demonstrate this. Clearly, being young in today's society is very challenging as demonstrated by the high usage of drugs and alcohol. When concerned youth express that they see their friends making risky choices on a regular basis, we need to pay attention. Obviously it isn't just adults seeing things sliding out of control. The leadership program under Counter Drug, highlighted in the article, is a positive venue through which interested students can take action. The Montana National Guard applauds any student reaching out to help and be proactive. Kids don't make it to adulthood without guidance and help ... it DOES take a village ... and the Montana National Guard is willing to do its part. For anyone interested in learning more about the Counter Drug Joint Task Force, please contact the Montana National Guard at 324-3484.
  2. Curmudgeon
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    Curmudgeon - December 15, 2010 9:23 am
    helenros said: "Kids have been complaining for generations that there isn't much to do around here besides drink. This is a valid point. Even for adults. Where to go which doesn't involve alcohol?"

    For kids with imagination, there's lots to do. For kids with imaginative and involved parents, there's lots to do.

    As a late, great Helenan (Frieda Fligelman) used to say:

    "Only boring people get bored."

  3. MTonMyMind
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    MTonMyMind - December 14, 2010 3:04 pm
    This is a great place to start. Too many good people have died from completely preventable alcohol related accidents. Parents, it's a different world than when we grew up. Please don't enable bad behavior and poor judgement. The cycle must be broken. I applaud these kids.
  4. Independent
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    Independent - December 14, 2010 2:04 pm
    Drenda Carlson has worked hard against teen drinking and drug use and should be commended. I hope they raise awareness for those who chose not to use.
  5. Areyousayingthiswithastraightface
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    Areyousayingthiswithastraightface - December 14, 2010 1:53 pm
    helenros: you make it sound as if there is nothing to our capacity as humans beyond the ability to follow a trail to a trough.

    One can go grow up in a small town, even where most kids drink throughout their high school years, without ever taking a sip. Trust me, it is possible. It is not the community's responsibility to create solutions for people who can not create their own. Yes, it would be nice if there were more to do around here, but there is no causal mechanism with this. Even in large cities where there are zoos and museums and limitless community events and resources, you will find teenagers (and adults) who abuse alcohol. People need to be their own pilots.

    And to the kids involved in this: Good job!
  6. montanamom68
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    montanamom68 - December 14, 2010 12:55 pm
    Clearly, these youth want a better environment for themselves and their children than what they live in. I say, "bravo!" We live in a state that ranks among the highest in the nation for alcohol-related crime, and these kids are speaking out and making a difference. We can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Being indifferent isn't an option.
  7. helenros
    Report Abuse
    helenros - December 14, 2010 11:37 am
    Kids have been complaining for generations that there isn't much to do around here besides drink. This is a valid point. Even for adults. Where to go which doesn't involve alcohol?
  8. ilovemj
    Report Abuse
    ilovemj - December 14, 2010 11:36 am
  9. ilovemj
    Report Abuse
    ilovemj - December 14, 2010 11:34 am

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