Keepers of Cool 2017
Thursday, August 24, 2017
In early August, a group of 20 teens gathered for the second annual "Keepers of Cool" Youth Leadership Retreat sponsored by the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and co-facilitated by Leading to Change. The teens in attendance are members of youth leadership teams in their respective counties as part of grant-funded community projects (Tier 1B Office of Adolescent Health in Aiken, Anderson, Orangeburg, and Parents are First and The Duke Endowment in Darlington).
Over two and a half days, at Hickory Knob State Resort Park in the Upstate, the teens attended workshops and bonded with other youth leaders. The workshops included information on reproductive anatomy and physiology, condoms and birth control, HIV and STIs, crafting a message, and activism through social media. Between workshops, the teens relaxed by swimming, hiking, playing basketball and board games, or simply hanging out.
After the retreat, the youth shared that their favorite parts of the event included learning about teen pregnancy prevention, learning how to give presentations, discovering ways to be a better community resource, and participating in the interactive workshops presented by Leading to Change.
County coordinators for each youth leadership team helped facilitate the retreat and also found the experience beneficial. Here’s what they had to say:
Karen Clinton of the Orangeburg-Calhoun-Allendale-Bamberg Community Action Agency said, “this retreat is important to me as a facilitator because it reinforces what we teach our youth leadership team.”
Whitney Davis, Community Health Worker with Darlington County First Steps found the experience insightful saying, “I get to see how they [the teens] interact with other individuals outside of their own group. I also get to see them pushed outside of their comfort zones and challenged by different individuals.”
Kandace Cave, Director of Community Programming at Aiken Youth Empowerment, was hopeful that her youth gained skills such as: “the formula for a good speech, working as a team, and how to get their message to the public in a positive manner.”
For April Cameron with United Way of Anderson County, the retreat emphasized that, “young people need refresher courses on reproductive health/systems,” and “high school/college kids also need continued info on contraception and STDs as the info [continues] to change since […] first presented to them in their middle school year.”
Giving young people the education and skills to talk about sexual health with their peers will help them feel empowered to make smarter decisions about their lives and their futures. These efforts support the SC Campaign's mission to further decrease teen pregnancy rates across South Carolina.