Twelve children and four advisers from the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center joined 490 youth leaders from across the state at the recent 2018 Tennessee Teen Institute (TTI) leadership and prevention camp.
The five-day camp was sponsored by the Jackson Area Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency and was held at the University of Tennessee Martin campus.
The Relative Caregiver program supports children and teens who are being raised by relatives because their parents are unable to do it. Housed on the UTHSC campus, the program is funded by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.
“The overall goal of the Tennessee Teen Institute is to promote the development of a healthy, safe, and drug-free lifestyle by impacting the attitudes and behaviors of youth in the areas of alcohol, tobacco, drug use and violence,” said Detris Whitten, family advocate counselor for the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program. “During the week at TTI, the children were able to develop community action plans that they will use to implement prevention projects and programs in their schools and communities. TTI focuses on developing youth leadership skills and empowerment as the key strategies to prevent underage alcohol and drug use.”
Prevention topics focused on alcohol, tobacco, drug use, and violence. The program also addressed issues, including bullying, suicide, teen pregnancy, and distracted driving, through peer-led discussions.
The mission of TTI is to empower Tennessee’s youth to lead by example and take an active role in bringing about positive changes by giving them the skills, knowledge, and support they need make healthy choices, build positive relationships and live substance free lives.