News and Events

DeSoto County Youth Attend Prevention Camp During Spring Break 
May 14, 2019

For most youth, the week of spring break is spent lounging on the couch watching edless hours of television, however, the week of March 11th was much more than lazy days and limitless TV for a few youth in DeSoto County.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and the Drug Free DeSoto Coalition hosted the first Spring Break Prevention Camp. Being a rural community, there isn’t much offered to keep youth safe and engaged in non-risky behaviors during time off from school, and this event set out to do just that. Prevention Camp 2019 was held at the Mosaic Community Center in downtown Arcadia March 11th – 14th and open to all youth in DeSoto County grades 5th – 12th.

This camp not only keep youth engaged, but they also took away a great deal of information on a wide range of prevention topics. The event was an alcohol/tobacco/drug free camp and mimicked our leadership DeSoto program, in that each day had a theme: Community Service Day, Alcohol Awareness Day, Tobacco Education Day, and Criminal Justice Day. Each day, guest speakers within the community educated youth on their topic of expertise.

The first day of camp, Community Service Day, was kicked off with a few ice breaker activities which allowed youth to get to know one another. Afterwards, attendees walked over to the public library where they boarded the DART (DeSoto Arcadia Regional Transit) Bus and headed for Trinity United Methodist Church. There, youth were able to service our community by assisting in one of our local food pantries. Youth greeted community members with a smile, helped dish hot meals, and maintained cleanliness of the room. The day was concluded with a relaxing lunch and conversations. From this experience, youth learned that they do not have to give financially to serve our community - there are many ways we can give back by simply donating our time.

Tuesday was all about alcohol literacy. Youth welcomed a representative from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) who explained the negative effects of underaged drinking and showed videos on what can happen when operating a vehicle when impaired. Youth also learned about how companies market alcohol to the younger generations to get them hooked in order to be long term consumers. In addition, Youth heard from a local individual who personally had an experience with drinking and driving. He shared his story with youth and allowed them to ask questions. Youth were very intrigued with the information shared and learned how important it is to live a sober life.

On Tobacco Education Day, TFP members were able to engage youth in anti-tobacco initiatives and recruit new youth to join SWAT. Members presented on the dangers of tobacco use using videos and hands-on education items.  A large part of the day was spent educating youth on the dangers of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and how Big Tobacco uses sneaky marketing tactics to get teens hooked on tobacco at an early. Youth created a skit to perform for their parents the night of the camp celebration dinner and created postcards to send to JUUL, in hopes of getting them to stop targeting our youth. In addition, Youth walked over to a McSwain Park where they conducted a tobacco litter clean up in Honor of Kick Butts Day. Overall, youth enjoyed learning about the importance of living a tobacco free life and how hard it is to quit once you have started.

Thursday, youth heard all things Criminal Justice. Camp attendees got a private tour of the Sheriff’s Office, where they even got to take a picture behind Sherriff Potter’s desk and see a portion of the jail. Youth were able to talk with Deputies and learn about their jobs and the incarceration process: inmate booking, their clothing, and the things they don’t have or aren’t allowed to have while in jail. In addition to the Sheriff’s Office, youth were able to learn from Judge Brewer and see the inside of a courtroom. She explained the schooling behind becoming a judge, the branches of law, and the court process. Criminal Justice Day was very eye opening for youth – seeing all they could lose, sometimes with one little mistake.

Thursday evening, to close out the event, youth and their families were invited to attend a celebration dinner led by the youth themselves. The camp attendees kicked of the dinner celebration with a skit “It has to ENDs” and presented a summary of each themed day to their parents. Families enjoyed a Slim’s BBQ dinner together, then youth were called up to receive a certificate of completion.

Spring Break Prevention Camp 2019 served as a great opportunity to engage and educate youth, as well as many adults within our community on the importance of living a tobacco and drug free life and empowered them to become involved in prevention initiatives in DeSoto County.

Thank you so much to every individual that helped make this week such a success! We have received many words of praise about the event and look forward to watching this camp grow and seeing all these young people accomplish in the future!

If you would like to get involved in our mission, our next partnership meeting will be held at noon on May 15th in the McSwain Banquet Room at DeSoto Memorial Hospital.  Lunch is provided.

For more information on Students Working Against Tobacco and/or The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County, please like us on Facebook for visit