The Chesterfield Alliance for Positive Youth sets out to help kids in the area make better choices regarding drug, alcohol and tobacco use. It also helps to instill kids with a positive outlook on the future, boost their confidence and help them to combat bullying.
The alliance holds family forums in the fall to discuss topics including raising children responsibly, Internet safety, substance abuse and addiction, suicide and depression.
It also celebrates Red Ribbon Week at the end of October, which supports drug-free lifestyles. On Earth Day, the group holds a drug take-back program, in which they accept all expired medications to dispose of them appropriately.
Michelle Hresko, the alliance’s secretary, has been in the group for 12 years. Hresko said one of the group’s main events is hosting a pool party at the at the end of each summer for middle school students.
“We had originally started targeting middle school because (they) do the D.A.R.E. program in elementary school,” Hresko said. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program has since been stopped in Parkway schools. Similar to the alliance, it encourages older elementary school students to avoid drug and alcohol use.
The alliance also participates in , which the school district has hosted for five years. They hand out information on drug addiction and have had a speaker to come talk about the dangers of energy drinks.
Hresko said drug and alcohol use are the biggest problems for kids in Chesterfield. In the St. Louis area, Hresko said, and the chairman of the committee attended a conference regarding how to handle the issue of heroin specifically.
“I think the Parkway school system chooses to ignore it, but it really is becoming a problem,” Hresko said. To help combine and strengthen its efforts, Hresko said the alliance has been trying to work together for the past couple of years with the to join forces on their events and vice versa, but the bridge has been difficult.
To target high school students, the alliance used to put on an annual event called the Acoustic Café, where high schoolers would bring in their bands and friends to the , and the alliance would provide food and funding for the venue. Hresko said it went well for about five years, but due to a lower turnout, they discontinued the event.
The alliance’s new mission is to get more adults involved in their issues in Chesterfield, especially to help parents have a positive influence over their children.
“We (want to) bring in people to talk about bullying, suicide and depression, but we’ve had a harder time getting that off the ground,” she said. “It’s just sort of part of our new strategy to educate the adults as well. People here may not understand how big of a problem that could become in the future.”