Steppin’ It Up making a difference in local youth

COUNTY — The Steppin’ It Up Coalition, a part of Behavioral Health Services of Pickens County, combats the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and drug use in the youth of Pickens County.

Steppin’ It Up Coalition’s Pickens County Youth Board

Steppin’ It Up Coalition’s Pickens County Youth Board

With a mission to strengthen the youth in Pickens County, the coalition’s main goalis to arm the youth with knowledge of the dangers and health implications of tobacco, alcohol and drug use in order to help them make the correct decision when under temptation and peer pressure of others.

The coalition is made up of youth, parents, law enforcement, health professionals and experts in the field of substance abuse.

In order to fulfill the vision the coalition holds, members spend a surplus amount of time advocating for a community that prevents access to controlled substances by youth and promotes abstinence from controlled substances in youth, while supporting effective drug cessation and counseling programs.

In addition to the coalition, Behavioral Health Services of Pickens also sponsors the Pickens County Youth Board, an eclectic group of youth throughout Pickens County who have a desire to make a difference in their community, especially in the area of substance abuse. Board members meet multiple times a week to discuss events and ideas they believe will be beneficial to Pickens County.

In the spring, PCYB sponsors a pre-prom party at the YMCA in Pickens. Last year, the party was emceed by Hot 98.1’s DJ Tone Hollywood. The youth enjoyed a variety of foods while dancing, interacting in activities, and obtaining essential knowledge about substance abuse. With its largest turnout yet, PCYB is very eager to begin planning 2015’s pre-prom party.

While it is important to reach as many youths as possible, it is also vital that the youth board has an expansive knowledge in the area of substance abuse to pass on to pupils. To give PCYB members the knowledge essential to their success, the group participates in a retreat every year.

This year, the retreat was held at Bonclarken Camp in Flat Rock, N.C. Throughout the camp, the youth met with speakers such as Sam Wyche and a representative from the Clemson Police Department on the effects and consequences of substance abuse.

They learned the symptoms drugs have on the human body, what to look for if they are suspicious of substance abuse, and the laws warranting the use of substance abuse. Topics such as underage drinking and supplying alcohol for minors were also discussed. Dr. James R. Mahanes also attended the retreat, where he discussed the abuse of prescription drugs and the roles it plays in the medical field. Mahanes has become a major activist for the reduction of prescription drug abuse in Pickens County.

Those interested in joining the Steppin’ It Up Coalition can find more information at or stop by 303 E. Main St. in Pickens. Applications for Pickens County Youth Board will be available in the spring of 2015, and all interested participants are welcome.