On February 13, 2018 at Cochrane-Fountain City school eighth graders from all four school districts in Buffalo County participated in the sixth annual Eighth Grade Day. The program was hosted by the Buffalo County Partnership Council (BCPC), a group of teachers, students, county agencies and community organizations with the mission to “provide collaborative prevention programming to educate youth and their families to make healthy choices and positively influence people and polices.”
The event focused on preparing Buffalo County eighth graders from Mondovi, Cochrane-Fountain City, Gilmanton and Alma for high school and addressing some of the challenges they may already be facing, such as bullying, depression, peer relationships and alcohol and drug use.
Tom Kidd, a local speaker from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was the keynote presenter for the day. Kidd engaged students with personal stories related to making good choices and utilizing important communication life skills. Students learned about research related to decision-making and self-esteem and he gave students tools to improve their confidence when faced with peer pressure to use alcohol or drugs.
Another core part of the learning experiences was a suicide prevention training called QPR. QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer. The purpose of the training was to help students better understand the suicide warning sides and how to ask the question, persuade peers to seek help and refer a friend to an adult or Hopeline for additional resources. The QPR trainer was Laura Baalrud from Sacred Heart’s 3D Community Health and was invited through a partnership with Buffalo County Public Health.
In addition, Judi Zabel from 7 C’s Health, a consortium of public health counties in western Wisconsin, spoke to students about tobacco products. Zabel wanted eighth graders to recognize newer tobacco products that are targeted at young people. These products are packaged in bright colors that appeal to youth, come in kid-friendly flavors like cotton candy and are located at eye level in local convenience stores for a very low cost. Zabel’s presentation was highly interactive and provided new information to middle school students that they could utilize immediately.