The Gallia County Youth Coalition is the youth contingent of Citizens for Prevention and Recovery. We have come together to speak out about our dissatisfaction with the condition of our community due to the drug epidemic. We are here to spread awareness of our community’s current state and to help make a real difference.
Even if the people of our community tire of hearing about it, the fact still remains that the drug epidemic affects every single member of our community. Studies have shown that teens from drug abusing families are likely to follow the same path, so, as youth, we experience the effects of the drug epidemic first-hand in our schools. The same can be said for mental health. Depression and anxiety in teens’ lives are real issues but often get overlooked as much as — if not more than — other mental illnesses. Additionally, if the problem is perceived as someone else’s, an infectious stigma can run rampant: “Drugs only affect that group of people;” “Only those people have mental health problems;” “I have never had that problem, so why should anyone else?” Stigma, it turns out, can be as much a disease as addiction or mental illness.
Our brains tend to magnify the negative and for some it may seem that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Many communities like ours feel beaten down or seem to have given up entirely on facing their problems. But in the words of Vice President Mike Pence, “When it comes to protecting our way of life, the only thing we can’t afford is inaction.” This is the solution we offer to Gallia County — action! By facing our obstacles head-on and by accepting our shortcomings and working to move past them, we will change our community! We will reclaim our shared sense of responsibility. We, students, parents, teachers, leaders, and concerned citizens, will work together and we will revive our belief in the power of community. We will lift each other up, not tear each other down. We will once again make this a safe place to call home.
We will make life better in our small town… but we won’t do it alone. We invite all the youth in our community who want to make a difference to come together. The Youth Coalition meets the first Sunday of every month at 2 p.m. at Bossard Memorial Library. For more information on meetings, follow us on Instagram: @galliayouthcoaltion.