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What's Up Magazine

Helping Teens Feel Comfortable

Mar 08, 2011 04:02PM ● By Anonymous

Over the last few years in her role as Talbot County Youth Coalition Coordinator, she has helped provide teens with a safe place where they can be themselves.  She is reaching out to teens to help them find the tools to withstand the peer pressure she experienced in high school in Talbot County.

Cowee, who attended Sts. Peter and Paul High School, was a high functioning student who did well in her schoolwork and in athletics.  She came from a good family and was given many opportunities in high school and afterwards, including traveling with “Up With People” throughout North America and Europe.

She comments, “Just like today, when I was a teen, there was access to drugs and alcohol.  Many teens didn’t realize then, nor do they realize now, that their weekend use may become a problem for them as adults.”

Cowee’s success continued as she graduated from the University of Vermont and later moved to California to attend the Gemological Institute of America to launch her career as a jewelry designer.  Wanting to be closer to her family on the Eastern Shore and away from the California lifestyle, she returned to Easton in 2006.

After settling back in Easton, she became the catering director for a local restaurant and owner of Small Ant Workshop, her jewelry business.   In 2009, she decided she wanted to give back to the community where she grew up.  She adds, “Since I struggled in high school with the pressures to use alcohol and drugs, I thought maybe I could help young people avoid some of the mistakes I had made.”

Cowee states that she believes today that all kids are at risk for alcohol and drug abuse.

She adds, “Kids today can mask themselves behind text messages and Facebook and subsequently, substance abuse issues can go unrecognized by parents.”

Because of her interest in this issue, Cowee approached Talbot Partnership about helping them with their Youth Coalition and for the last few years has been involved with shaping the organization.  She states, “Being involved with the program is giving me a sense of what high school could have been for me.  I really enjoy being with the teens and hearing about the issues they deal with and how they cope today.”

The Talbot County Youth Coalition for Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Prevention is a youth-to-youth leadership program which provides drug-free activities for youth. The objective of the program is to get our youth involved in addressing Talbot County’s growing substance abuse and addictions problem and assist in finding solutions. The Youth Coalition is part of the Youth-to-Youth International program, a research-based community effort that encourages and supports drug-free youth.

According to Gary Pearce, executive director of Talbot Partnership, “This proven research-based prevention program has been used successfully across the country and includes a clear NO tobacco, alcohol, or any other drug policy and strong teen leadership, with responsibility for planning their own prevention initiatives and activities. Liz has been an amazing help in inspiring the youth in implementing their ideas.”

Cowee assists Pearce in advising the youth as they plan community activities.  She states, “There are not enough activities for youth in the community.  We are trying to provide safe places for them to just ‘hang out’ and be themselves without drugs and alcohol. Everyone is welcome at our events and can be sure they will be accepted.”

She concludes, “I think programs like the Talbot County Youth Coalition have the potential to help kids cope with the pressures in their lives today.”