Leaders seeking parents’ influenceBeth Borgen may have spent Wednesday evening preaching to the choir, but she said it won’t derail her mission of cleaning up chemical-use issues in Red Wing.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
Beth Borgen may have spent Wednesday evening preaching to the choir, but she said it won’t derail her mission of cleaning up chemical-use issues in Red Wing.
Among the approximately 35 attendees at a Goodhue County Chemical Health Initiative meeting, nearly all were educators or presenters from a youth resource fair that preceded the presentation.
Borgen, principal at Red Wing High School, said the sparse attendance Wednesday by parents without ties to organizations at the fair may have been a result of the problem she’s trying to correct.
“We’re going to take our heads out of the sand,” she said to the group during an emotional appeal to parents, asking them to steer kids away from alcohol and chemical use.
Borgen reprised her
concern that a longstanding tradition in Red Wing means youth and parents approaching use of alcohol as a rite of passage.
Perhaps the lack of parents at Wednesday’s meeting is a reflection of that notion, she said.
“They might have to take a look at their own house,” Borgen said of would-be attendees after the meeting. “Looking in the mirror is hard.”
Still, she and others said they will continue to reach out — not just to youth, but to others in the community in hopes of turning back recent survey results Borgen called troubling.
Among the data presented from the 2007 Minnesota Student Survey were local figures showing 12.5 years as the average onset ages for cigarette and alcohol use.
Borgen and Julie Hatch, the CHI coordinator, stressed the importance of parents’ roles during the presentation and reminded attendees that frontal-lobe brain development is incomplete among teens.
“The parents need to act as their frontal lobe through high school,” Hatch said.
The duo urged parents to resist serving alcohol during upcoming graduation parties.
They also said CHI will continue beating its drum around the community.
But parents, attendees said, must become a part of the cause.
“The biggest component we’re missing,” Red Wing police Chief and CHI member Tim Sletten said, “is parent involvement.”
Mark Yahn, a drug and alcohol counselor at Wenden Recovery Services, said many of the young people he sees in treatment turn to chemicals as a response to boredom.
He said the presenters’ message Wednesday struck a chord.
“Being pre-emptive is always going to be more advantageous,” he said.
Still, the lack of parents at the meeting did not go unnoticed by other attendees.
Jinny Rietmann, a youth counselor at WorkForce Development, said the numbers left her a little underwhelmed.
“We’d like to see more community members involved,” she said.