The History of Teens for Healthy Youth
Teens for Healthy Youth evolved out of a Town Hall Meeting conducted in May 2014 by the LowCountry Alliance for Healthy Youth. During this town hall meeting, 14 area high school students provided a voice for youth prevention during a segment entitled “Message from Youth.” The teens shared their concerns related to easy access to alcohol and peer pressure to engage in underage drinking. These teens were identified as potential youth leaders and LCAHY engaged in plans to develop its own youth coalition.
Teens for Healthy Youth, LCAHY’s Youth Coalition, began as a pilot program at Bluffton High School in 2016. The group began with a handful of members and gradually grew to over 20 members. The pilot group began by implementing peer-to-peer education to prevent and reduce teen use of drugs and alcohol. The group focused on increasing perception of harm and informing their peers about the risks of substance use. This first THY group encouraged their peers to participate in NIDA’s National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week and invited the Mayor of Bluffton to kick off this event at Bluffton High School. The pilot program proved to be a success and was implemented the following year by its returning members.
The first president of THY Bluffton was Adelynn Helms, who served as THY president from 2015-2018. She also served as a youth representative on LCAHY’s Board and later was the recipient of LCAHY’s Outstanding Senior Recognition Award in 2018. After graduation, Adelynn served as an intern for LCAHY and helped organize a breakfast for the faith-based sector among other responsibilities.
In 2017, LCAHY was awarded the Drug Free Communities Grant and as part of their strategic action plan, they expanded and funded THY in other local high schools. Currently, THY has grown to over 170 members in seven area high schools including Bluffton High School, Cross Schools, Hilton Head Christian Academy, Hilton Head High Island School, Heritage Academy, Hilton Head Preparatory School, and May River High School. Among many notable accomplishments, Teens for Healthy Youth was selected as the grand co-marshalls of the Bluffton Christmas Parade in 2019 and was interviewed by WSAV on the e-cigarette crisis. THY’s mission is to promote positive teen health through leadership, positive youth development, peer-to-peer education, advocacy, and community service.