Posted by John Ester on Nov 05, 2019
Kandi McKenzie is coordinator for the Benzie Area Youth Initiative, which seeks to address issues such as drug and alcohol abuse faced by Benzie County youth.
The first step in the Benzie Area Youth (BAY) Initiative is to get an understanding of the issues our youth are struggling with.  In that regard Kandi discussed the results of the "Communities That Care" survey sent to several hundred area high school students. The results were embraced in bar graphs that compared Benzie County results with national figures.
The survey indicated that in Benzie County the biggest problem by far is in alcohol use, with Benzie County percentages in such areas as lifetime use and binge drinking exceeding national averages.  Similar comparisons were made for the use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco and marijuana.  Other categories surveyed included depression (with an alarming 50% of respondents acknowledging bouts of depression), and gun safety.
The review of survey results led to a spirited discussion as to what steps should be taken to address these problems.  Should the answer lie with parents or with the schools?  Several stressed the importance of reaching kids when they are young--building relationships through mentoring programs and the like. No shortage of opporunities for our Club to be involved!