Sarah May is the Coordinator of the Benzie Area Youth Initiative.  As she explained in her PowerPoint presentation, the BAY Initiative aims to promote healthy behaviors in youth through collaborative prevention efforts.
Started in 2016, BAY is focused  on prevention of substance abuse and support for mental well-being. Grow Benzie serves as its anchor organization, and it is made up of a diverse group of members from education, mental health, parents, law enforcement, the healthcare field and community members.
 Sarah shared the result of surveys taken every other year by area 7th, 9th and 11th graders measuring risk and protective factors.  In 2022 both Frankfort and Benzie Central Schools participated, with 90 ninth-graders taking the survey.  The behaviors they reported included--
  • 3 out of 10 have ever drank alcohol, and nearly 1 out of 10 have been drunk.
  • 1 out of 5 have used marijuana; 1 out of 10 currently use marijuana.
  • 1 out of 10 currently use a vaping product, and there were 51 vaping violations in the two Benzie Country high schools in the '21 -'22 school year.
  • 1 out of 4 have done something to hurt themselves (without wanting to die) in the past 12 months.
  • 7 out of 10 spend more than three hours a day on an electronic device for non-school-related purposes.
  • 4 out of 10 have not been physically active for 60+ minutes on five of the past seven days.
An analysis of protective factors is encouraging. Some 81% of ninth-graders could ask their parents for help with personal problems, and 65% have regular chances to talk with a teacher one-on-one at school.  And 73% say that their parents give them choices of fun things to do together.
With respect to factors impacting behaviors, in the last 12 months 18% of ninth-graders were offered, sold or given an illicit drug on school property. Bullying is an issue--in the last 12 months 37% of ninth-graders have been bullied on school property and 28% have been electronically bullied.
Sarah showed a BAY video and discussed a youth video project that is underway.  In the Q&A that followed Sarah's presentation several Club members asked what we can do to assist BAY's efforts. Sarah's answer
included listening to kids and talking to them on a one-to-one basis, as well as assisting them on community service projects.  She also urged anyone interested to get involved with BAY through coalition meeetings that are held. the 3rd Tuesday of each month.