Washington Parish Youth Coalition

Washington Parish Youth Coalition

Area youth school leaders who are determined to make a difference in alcohol and drug free communities.

We are young adults educating and encouraging others to abstain from tobacco, underage alcohol and prescription drug abuse.

We ask that Bogalusa and Washington Parish consider Social Hosting Policies so that parents will be held responsible for underage drinking on their property.

And, thanks for going Smoke Free Bogalusa. You are a model city.

The vision of WPYC is to empower youth to make healthy decisions concerning tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs with the support of adults in a safe environment.

WPYC Youth Ambassadors receive training from Dr. Gina LaGarde and her team. Youth were educated about Covid-19 and the vaccine. 

Washington Parish Youth Coalition 

Against Drugs Teen Training

Contact Info: Rhonda Gunnell Phone: 985-735-0160 or 985-516-5875

Youth Attendees: Forty-two students participated in the Washington Parish Youth Coalition Against Drugs Teen Training which was held August 10th at the ADAPT office in Bogalusa. Participants included: Bogalusa High School – JaKirstan Pigott; Franklinton High School – Landon Blakeney, Emma Cooke, Tayte Landy, Van Mizell, Eddie Roberts, Marleigh Schilling, Zachary Seale, Gracie Thigpen, Khaled Waliagha, and Emma Williams; Franklinton Jr. High School – Scott Dylan Adams, Cadence Blakeney, Skylar Branch, Bailey Burdette, Shyanne Burris, Emily Carpenter, Jazxavia Crosby, Aden Hartzog, Brooke Hartzog, Bailee Lindsey, Gabrielle Penton, Brylee Pittman, Natalie Seal, Easton Smith, and Annalise Thigpen; Pine High School – Bailey Brooks, Lily Crain, and Savannah McKenzie; Varnado High School – Tede`Schi Allen, Je’Maya Dalcour, Tyriah Davis, Chasidy Dyson, Jena’ Harry, Julond Harry, Khila Jefferson, Ryan Jefferson, Bryana Moses, Kelnekia Moses, LaDarrick Smith, and Lauryn Smith. School sponsors who attended and supported the youth included Elizabeth Helton, Franklinton High; Kelli McKenzie, Pine High; Garnet Fornea, Varnado High; and Dana Walker, Brilliant Mindz. Additional adults in attendance included: Regina Meyerchick, Youth Coalition Coordinator; Tiffany Crain, Drug Free Communities Coordinator; Rhonda Gunnell, Washington Parish Coalition on Human Services President; and Rusty Fornea, ADAPT Executive Director. For additional information about the Youth Coalition, contact Regina Meyerchick or Rusty Fornea at 985-735-0160.

LaDarrick Smith, Varnado High School student, kicks off the Washington Parish Youth Coalition Against Drugs Teen Training with introductions and general information. 

Youth Socializing:  One of the goals of the Teen Training was to allow students an experience that would be both fun and educational. Our youth are leaders of both today and tomorrow!

Bailey Brooks, Pine High School student, talks about new trends with e-cigarettes, including vaping and juuling. Rates of e-cigarette use are high among youth, and there is little known about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. Nicotine use exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can cause addiction and harm the developing brain. Most disturbing is the trend that we are seeing in Washington Parish with past 30-day use of electronic cigarettes by students increasing in grades 8, 10, and 12, as evidenced by the Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey. Students in 8th grade increased use from 11.1% in 2016 to 20.5% in 2018; 10th grade use increased from 15.7% to 24.4%; and 12th grade use increased from 14.9% to 25.2%. Nicotine exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can cause addiction and harm the developing brain. The Washington Parish Youth Coalition Against Drugs encourages youth to avoid any kind of nicotine product, including e-cigarettes. 

Kelnekia Moses, Varnado High School student, explains the dangers of using prescription drugs in the wrong way. While opioids can be very effective at treating pain, they can be very addictive and should only be used under close supervision by a doctor. Washington Parish is one of the leading parishes in opioid overdose deaths in Louisiana. How do you avoid opioid addiction? Ask questions. Talk to your doctor about alternatives. Follow the instructions. Stop as soon as you can. Safely dispose of leftover pills. Never share pills. The earlier substance use begins, and the heavier the use, the more likely a person will develop addiction, also known as substance use disorder. Preventing or delaying all substance use by teens reduces the risk of later addiction as adults. Learn more about prevention at opioids.thetruth.com.

Lily Crain, Pine High School student, leads a discussion on second-hand smoke with youth. Exposure to secondhand smoke is a known health hazard for both children and adults. With more than 1 billion smokers worldwide, many nonsmokers are exposed to second-hand smoke, about two thirds of whom are children and adolescents. Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 600,000 deaths per year. It can cause or make worse a wide range of damaging health effects in children and adults, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. The Washington Parish Youth Coalition Against Drugs promotes a smoke-free environment for everyone.

Jakirstan Pigott, Bogalusa High School student, has an informal conversation with Rusty Fornea during lunch. Fornea is the Executive Director of ADAPT. Students who participated in the Teen Training enjoyed pizza and cold drinks for lunch. 

Youth Activity: Youth participated in several fun activities to get acquainted with peers from different schools. Participants included students from Bogalusa High, Franklinton Jr. High, Franklinton High, Pine Jr. & Sr. High, and Varnado Jr. & Sr. High.

Youth Teamwork: LaDarrick Smith led participants in a team building activity. The goal was to stay interlocked and stand up together. This is impossible to do without communication. Students learned that we are strong as one, but stronger together.

Ryan Jefferson, Varnado High School student, addresses underage alcohol use. Heavy drinking, whether or a single occasion or over time, can cause serious health problems. Excessive alcohol consumption harms almost every part of the body and has been linked to more than 60 diseases. The Caring Communities Youth Survey indicates that past 30-day use of alcohol by students in Washington Parish is at the following levels: 7.3% of 6th graders; 16.3% of 8th graders; 29.0% of 10th graders; and 31.6% of 12th graders self-reported to alcohol use in the past 30-days. Washington Parish Youth Coalition Against Drugs want their peers to know that “it is not cool to use alcohol” and “not everyone is doing it.”

Khaled Waliagha, Franklinton High School student, educates peers about the harmful effects of marijuana use by youth. The short-term dangers include but are not limited to memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor skills, and increased heart rate. The National Institute for Drug Abuse's annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey show that teens' perception of marijuana's harmfulness has gradually decreased over the years, which usually signals future increases in use among youth. According to one such MTF survey, only 41.7 percent of eighth graders see occasional use of marijuana as harmful. As they grow older, that percentage decreases: only 20.6 percent of 12th graders see occasional use of weed as harmful. Washington Parish Youth Coalition Against Drugs notes that marijuana is harmful for use by youth and should not be used. 

Tyriah Davis, Varnado High School student, presents information on the harmful effects of tobacco on the body. Smoking can lead to cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis. Tobacco companies spend more than a million dollars an hour in this country alone to market their products. The more young people are exposed to cigarette advertising and promotional activities, the more likely they are to smoke. Washington Parish Youth Coalition Against Drugs strives to educate our young people about the dangers from tobacco use.

LaDerrik Smith, CADCA Youth Trainer,  represented Washington Parish's Youth Coalition in Grapevine, Texas as part of CADCA's 18th Annual Mid-Year Training Institute. Smith, along with fellow attendees, share their thoughts and stories. 

WPYC Represented in Washington, DC

Varnado High School student, LaDerrick Smith, was awarded the highest honor given to youth by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) at the national conference in Washington D.C. CADCA is a national program purposing to reduce drug use one community at a time. Smith received the National Outstanding Youth Leader of the Year award. This award recognizes leaders that have gone above the call of duty to work diligently in their coalitions, demonstrate a passion from making an impact on their community and have a lasting effect on the NYLI (National Youth Leadership Initiative.)

Three Washington Parish School System students attended the conference: LaDerrick Smith, Khaled Waliagha and Emma Williams. Congratulations LaDerrick!

The Washington Parish Youth Council Pledge

I hereby pledge to do the following:

I will not use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

I will work to educate myself and my peers about the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

I will work with others to spread the truth about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs so that we can create a healthy, drug-free community.

I will make smart decisions about substance use when I turn 21.

I hereby pledge to rise above the influence and commit myself to a healthy lifestyle.

Varnado High School WPYC members !

Great Sponsor. Great kids. Great job ! 

WPYC Youth speaks to WPSB Bus Drivers about dangerous fad trending in Jr. High and High schools around the country. 

WPYC - OTC / Rx Drug Education Crew 

Guidelines for WPYC Members at the School Level:

Considerations for Selection of the WPYC Advisor:

Formation of a WPYC at the school level shall be offered at:

Ben's Ford Christian School (grades 6-12)                                                Franklinton Jr. High School (grades 7-8)

Bogalusa High School (grades 6-12)                                                         Mt. Hermon High School (grades 6-12)

Bowling Green School (grades 6-12)                                                         Pine Jr/Sr High School (grades 6-12)  

Franklinton High School (grades 9-12)                                                      Varnado High School (grades 6-12)

For More Information Contact:

Regina Meyerchick, DFC Program Coordinator 

rmeyerchick@adaptwp.org        Office: (985) 735-0160