Some Worthington high school students are looking to educate their peers about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Seven students from Worthington Kilbourne High School and one student from Thomas Worthington High School comprise the youth council, a new initiative by Drug Safe Worthington.
Drug Safe Worthington is a coalition of community members who are taking an active role to help minimize the abuse of drugs and alcohol in the community.
The eight students are Olivia Barrie, Lilly Ewing, Maggie Manrique, Claire Ogden, Abby Periatt, Maggie Rosenfeld, Maddie Wharton and Melissa Yu.
Manrique, a 15-year-old sophomore at Worthington Kilbourne, said she became interested in the group after volunteering for Drug Safe Worthington.
She said she was one of the only underclassman students involved and was excited when Lori Povisil, the safe and drug-free schools coordinator for Worthington Schools and chairwoman of Drug Safe Worthington, mentioned the idea.
"I was completely on board because I knew it was an issue in our school," she said.
Povisil said Drug Safe Worthington wanted to from the council as a way to help get youths involved.
"We were underrepresented and needed to hear the youth," she said.
Povisil said the only requirement to be in the group is students have to be committed to help with the prevention of drug and alcohol use in their schools, the district as a whole and the community. She said the students also need to have a commitment to abstain from drug and alcohol themselves.
She said the youth council largely would be driven by the students and their ideas for solutions.
One of the first things the students did as a group was attend a youth-leadership forum held by the CADCA, which is short for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. The forum, which was Feb. 4 to 7 in National Harbor, Maryland, gave the group a foundation before going into the community.
While attending, the students were able to speak with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Cincinnati) about the issues of teens using brand-name Juul devices or other electronic cigarettes.
Ewing, a 15-year-old sophomore at Thomas Worthington, said the use of Juul devices is an issue the group wants to resolve at the high school level.
"There are more people that I know that Juul than don't," she said.
Though the group has no definitive agenda, its members spoke at a Worthington Schools staff meeting Feb. 12.
Both Ewing and Manrique said they also want to start by educating younger students about the dangers of drugs and being a positive influence to their peers.
"Kids are just misinformed about drug use," Manrique said.