WESTFIELD CENTER — Medina High School will be getting a new program to combat bullying as a result of last week’s countywide youth summit sponsored by the United Way of Medina County.
Seth Kujat, executive director of the Medina County United Way, said students representing Medina High came up with a mentoring program called “Bee United,” where students from each graduating class — a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior — are grouped together to work as a support system for one another throughout the school year and beyond.
“The groups would stay together year after year,” Kujat said, “and they’d bring in a new freshman every year when the senior graduates.”
Medina High students were some of more than 200 teens from high schools in each of the county’s school districts that gathered Friday to come up with strategies to address the social issues they face every day.
The event was the second day of the first E4 Youth Summit, sponsored by the United Way of Medina County and held at Westfield Insurance’s Blair Center, 9079 Leroy Road, Westfield Center.
The “E4” in the summit’s name refers to the United Way’s hope to engage, educate, equip and empower the students to make a difference.
On the first day of the summit, held Wednesday, students met with peers from other districts to find what they had in common and to figure out what the big issues were across the county. Those issues were self-esteem, teen suicide, the effects of social media, bullying and drugs.
Students from each school district came up with a district-specific program. Highland High School students thought up the “Know, 1 Cares” program — a play off of their occasional feelings that no one cares about their problems.
“With that program, they’re trying to let people know that at least one person cares about their problems,” Kujat said.
Kujat said another group of student representatives from every school district tackled the job of coming up with ways to unify the county.
“They really wanted to get the youth together to focus on positive things and have fun at the same time,” he said. “They envisioned a youth celebration once a year, with events, a dance and bands. It would be every cool thing youth would like to do, and it would be open to everyone to celebrate and come together as one.”
Kujat said the programs the teens came up with would be financed by $10,000 from the United Way and additional donations from area businesses and benefactors.
He said the conference was a success.
“It was amazing to see so many young students working together to solve their issues,” Kujat said. “Their perspective is they need to treat themselves better. They understand that if they treat each other better and stick up for one another, great things can happen.”
He said he expects the United Way to host a similar summit every two or three years.
The students will present their ideas to the public at the United Way’s annual meeting 11:30 a.m. April 22 at Weymouth Country Club, 3946 Weymouth Road, Medina Township.
“They looked at the problems and they said, ‘We can solve this,’ ” Kujat said. “They didn’t focus on the politics and the impossibilities of it.”
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.