by Michael Muñoz
The Pella community has gathered together to put an end to drug use among local teens.
Every town has drug issues, but the Pella community has come together to form an awareness group called the Pella Youth Coalition. Run by Tricia Van Zee in cooperation with the Pella Police Department and both Pella Community and Pella Christian staff, this group plans to spread “awareness of drug and alcohol use among area teens,” according to pellayouthcoalition.org.
The group has already found a voice in the community with a kick off event held this past August, having over a hundred attending. While many were parents of teenagers, some teenagers have taken matters into their own hands.
Grayson Parisee, a junior at the Pella Community High School, has helped form a subgroup of the coalition, the Student Action Group. Formed in late May, the group’s focus is on community building and “to break down some of the barriers between different social groups between and in the schools,” Parisee stated. “We want to get kids interacting and communicating with each other and seeing the value of shared humanity in all of us.”
The group seeks to accept those from all backgrounds. “We continue to reach out to those we wouldn’t normally talk to,” said Parisee, “and to really try our best to not judge each other for the choices we’ve made in the past. Everyone messes up, everyone makes mistakes, it’s what we do after and how we move on that really counts.”
While students have been taking action, so has the staff at PCHS. Among them are teacher Pamella Vande Voort, football coach John Amelse, and principal Dan Van Kooten, who has been in cooperation with the community school and others involved to organize and advertise the events of the program.
The Youth Coalition has many events planned for the next few months. PC will be hosting a vaping education program on Sept. 13 about the issues that stem from vaping. “What We Don’t See,” a trailer set up like a teenagers room to showcase where teens tend to hide recreational substances, will be set up at different locations next month, October 5 at PC before the football game, October 8 at the Pella Middle School during parent/teacher conferences, and October 12 and 15 at the Community High School before the football game and during parent teacher conferences.
Anyone interested in joining the movement to end drug usage by local teens can get involved by following the Pella Youth Coalitions facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/257427574817695/ or email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.