By Margie Wuebker
Scheduling of programs on the dangers of teen entertainment -- sex, drugs, violence and the Internet -- was finalized when the Mercer County Teen Coalition met Thursday afternoon.
Nationally known speaker Phil Chalmers will be in the county next week addressing students at area schools, talking with parents during a nighttime rally and participating at a teen rally in connection with a grant awarded to two local agencies.
His appearances, as well as ones scheduled by Pam Stenzel March 29-30, are part of Wellness Program 2005-2006 aimed at encouraging abstinence as a means of preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies among county teens.
Chalmers kicks off a busy day Tuesday addressing Celina High School seniors at 9 a.m. and Celina Middle School students at noon.
Parents Night will be observed Tuesday at the Celina Fieldhouse, 585 E. Livingston St., with a program beginning at 7 p.m. The event is open to the public without charge. Daytime programs on Wednesday are at 9 a.m. at Marion Local High School and 2:15 p.m. at Parkway High School.
Excitement for a 7 p.m. youth rally at Breakaway Rec Plex, 6301 U.S. 127, is already building, according to organizer Sue Wills.
"We will have a large group representing Mercer County on hand Wednesday night," Wills predicted. "The kids are excited."
Churches in the area have expressed an interest in bringing young people to the event which features a one-hour presentation by Chalmers and a one-hour concert by the Christian band Broken Yoke.
The Celina Christian Youth Council is picking up the cost of the band while churches are donating free food. There is no admission charge. Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey has agreed to provide coverage for traffic and security issues while trained counselors will be on hand should teens feel the need to share concerns.
"This is a first-time event so we don't really know what to expect in terms of turnout," Wills said. "We could have 100 kids or we could end up with 500."
Chalmers will wind up his three-day stay on Thursday with an 8:30 a.m. program at St. Henry High School and a 1:30 p.m. presentation at Fort Recovery High School.
Chalmers' assembly "20/20 Blind" hits nearly all destructive decisions a teen can make. He offers advice every parent, teacher or police officer would like to give to a junior high or senior high school student. The presentation includes facts, statistics, video clips, song lyrics and thought-provoking illustrations.
Stenzel, who travels throughout the country talking about sexual abstinence for teens, also will address students and adults during the late March visit.
The grant, which also covers the cost of a participant survey, billboards, informational material, advertisements, referral services and other incidentals, runs through June 30. In addition, a newsletter will be distributed in May as part of the local Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month observance.
Coalition members expressed satisfaction at the response of school officials from throughout the county. Only Coldwater school officials decided not to participate.