Youth Teaching Youth: “Making the Best Better”

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Today, the average age of new smokers is 13 . For alcohol, it’s 11. Armed with these statistics, five Eagan High School students are actively trying to change that by participating in Youth Teaching Youth, a program they discovered through Eagan’s Students Against Destructive Decisions group.

“Basically, Youth Teaching Youth is a program where we get to go to different elementary schools and teach drug-ed to fourth graders,” freshman Lydia Dawson said. “Our main focuses are tobacco and alcohol use.”

High schools from all over the Dakota County participate in Youth Teaching Youth every year. This program is part of the global network of youth organizations 4H, whose mission is to engage youth to reach their fullest potential and to advance the field of youth development. They strive to provide experiences for young people to learn by doing and showing.

“The goal is really to teach the fourth-graders about these risks before it becomes an option for them,” Hannah Larson, another freshman, explained. “Most people don’t know the risks before they choose to use alcohol or tobacco and we will hopefully stop that.”

I think that they will respond extremely well to us since we are who they are going to be someday.

— Lydia Dawson

Students involved in 4H programs are twice as likely to make healthier choices. They are also four times more likely to give back to their community. The organization’s results indicate that learning from high schoolers has a positive effect on kids.

“They really look up to us, so we think that definitely makes a difference when we’re teaching them,” Lauren Woods said. “They want to be like us, so the fact that we are telling them these facts will make them more motivated to avoid tobacco and alcohol.”

The five EHS members of Youth Teaching Youth began teaching fourth-graders at Pinewood Elementary on January 16th. They’ll spend two more Tuesdays at Pinewood before moving on to Red Pine to teach the students there.

“With all the high schools that are participating we are really excited to see the results,” Dawson said. “I think that they will respond extremely well to us since we are who they are going to be someday. They’ll actually listen to what we’re saying and apply it.”