Youth On Up to feature presentation on drug use

A group of concerned community members, Youth On Up, is hosting a Parent’s Night Thursday, March 3, in an effort to help educate parents about substance abuse.

The event will feature Lt. Ethan Ahern from the Missouri State Highway Patrol as the main speaker at 5:15 p.m. in the Fulton High School theater. “Meth Awareness” is the title of Ahern’s presentation.

Yolanda Smith, Youth On Up organizer, said the presentation is for adults, to inform them about drug abuse and will also offer warning signs that their child might be using. She said youth are using all types of items to “get high” and the goal of Youth On Up is stop them from going down that path.

“These kids are just desperate to get high for some reason,” she said.

Youth On Up organizers are working to offer alternatives for teens by providing them other activities in place of doing drugs. Educating the community is a part of the group’s program, Smith said.

Tara Duckworth is also a member of Youth On Up.

“When you have knowledge about drugs in general, you’re going to be able to deal with issues on drugs ... without any knowledge, you won’t be able to address those concerns,” Duckworth said.

She added that having Ahern speak on March 3 is the group’s first step toward “getting the knowledge out there.”

Ahern currently works for the Highway Patrol’s headquarters. He spent about 10 years in the patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control with the Narcotics Division. He has also supervised the MUSTANG drug task force and the Lake Area Narcotic Enforcement Group.

Ahern said he enjoys giving presentations on the dangers of drugs and raising community awareness on the issue. He said he plans to speak about many different drugs, but meth is his focus. He said he centers his talks on meth, because Missouri has lead the nation in meth production for several years.

“Methamphetamine seems to be the more highly addictive drug,” Ahern said.

Youth On Up was started last summer by a coalition of parents who were concerned about teen substance abuse. The group meets at 5:15 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at the John C. Harris Community Center. Smith said members are searching for a place to start a youth center to provide activities, arcades and tutoring for Callaway County teens. Anyone interested in donating to Youth On Up or finding out more information on the group can contact Smith at (573) 544-6185.

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