School Board, health coalition open dialog
Young groups efforts focusing on providing kids positive activities
The Elmbrook School Board on May 8 is expected to name one of its members as liaison to the Elmbrook Community Health Coalition.
The move is the latest in the coalition's efforts to strengthen its role in helping students lead the healthiest possible lifestyle.
Meg Wartman, School Board vice president, said assigning a liaison makes perfect sense.
"We assign liaisons to the Parent Network and the (Elmbrook Education Foundation), so this is a natural connection," she said. "I know that (Superintendent Matt Gibson) has had an interest in the coalition. It makes sense that the board makes that connection as well."
Coalition founder Sandra Schultz said she is grateful for the support.
"We welcome the opportunity to collaborate and not recreate the wheel if we don't have to, so connections that bring added resources and ideas are a big plus," she said.
Schultz noted that coalition leadership will be meeting formally less often during the summer, but intends to push forward with plans to help youngsters - and teens in particular - lead healthy and busy lives as they break from the routine of school.
"Kids are so vulnerable because if they don't have anything or enough to do, they can be drawn into making poor decisions," Schultz said.
Those decisions can range from bad food choices to using alcohol and drugs. Those bad choices, she said, are part of growing up. The part of the brain that controls such behavior is not fully formed at that age.
"If you think about it, we as adults after a long work-week want to decompress, and we have a lot of options," Schultz said. "These young people don't have those options. They get bored, and boredom leads to experimentation."
To fight that boredom, the coalition has just launched a Facebook page called Elmbrook YAC - which stands for Youth Advisory Committee. She expects it will take awhile until the page gets enough participants to become a full dialogue among teens and others.
Another boredom-buster effort is trying to find a place where teens can go, listen to music and hang out on a regular basis.
Teen leaders involved
The coalition has recruited teen leaders. Nick Rilling, a Marquette University High School sophomore, said he wants to promote healthy eating.
"There is a lot of stress in high school," Rilling said. "That's why a lot of kids turn to alcohol and drugs. I want to help prevent that."
Former Brookfield East student Amber Sneed brings personal experience to the table.
"I got busted for using a controlled substance," she said, noting that she completed a required program that expunged her record. "Since I've been down that path, I want to help kids avoid that."
Sneed has turned her life around quite nicely. She said she is proud that she graduated with a diploma from East. She works at the Health Hut in Brookfield.
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