Hospital Recognized for Support of 8th Grade Health Conference
Posted on Monday, January 8th, 2007
Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic received the thanks of the Love County Health Department recently for long-time support of the Love County Teen Conference.
For more than a dozen years, the hospital has been the major financial backer of the annual event in the fall that brings all of the county’s eighth graders together for a day-long series of workshops and presentations on physical and mental health.
The workshops cover topics such as drugs, tobacco, drinking, sexually-transmitted diseases, dating, family relations, abuse, and gangs. Local and state speakers lead the workshops and the students are treated to a pizza lunch and a day away from campus.
Janie Pennington, Health Department educator and conference organizer, presented a symbolic gift, a t-shirt from the latest conference, as a way of thanking and drawing attention to the hospital’s contribution. Administrator Richard Barker accepted in behalf of the hospital/clinic staff and Mission Team.
Pennington said students, teachers, and parents associated with the conference term it one of the best resources available to adolescents.
“I did a follow-up survey with 10th graders to find out what they had retained two years later. Many indicated the information they received was vital to their decision-making on these important growing up issues,” she said.
She and Barker reviewed evaluations from the most recent conference. They noted requests for added emphasis on teen pregnancy, teen suicide, and teen eating disorders.
In view of the evaluations, Barker encouraged the Health Department, schools, and parents to consider expanding the conference to cover additional topics or additional days and stress with youth the availability of local health and mental health agencies to deal with any personal need.
He pledged the hospital’s financial help with expansion plans. “It is important for youth to know what to do and whom to call when they are depressed, suicidal, or confronted with illicit drug, alcohol, or other risky behavior that will lead to unwanted consequences. Apart from the follow-up surveys, we have other evidence that the information students receive from the teen conference is empowering them to seek help for themselves and their classmates both for preventive and treatment reasons. We encourage the conference leaders to let us know what they want to add to the conference, because we are committed to it,” Barker said.