Coalitions in Action – Steppin’ It Up Coalition-Pickens County Youth Board – Prevention Podcast “For Teens, By Teens”
You may think they do, “…But They Don’t.” This year, Pickens County Youth Board (PCYB), housed within Behavioral Health Services of Pickens County, set out to create a new opportunity for peer education on substance use prevention, mental health and more. “…But They Don’t” is a podcast made for teens, by teens, and is produced, recorded and created by a talented group of PCYB youth.
“PCYB has been in existence for over 30 years. We’re located in upstate South Carolina in a very rural area, with limited activity options for our youth. The best thing to do here is go to the movie theatre together, so anything to get our youth involved in some pro-social activities, to give them that voice and to let them have the chance to express themselves is really important for us,” explained Jessica Gibson, Director of Prevention Services, and Prevention Specialist, Breann Nicholson.
After investing in recording equipment, Jessica and Breann asked around the high schools to gauge students’ interest in joining the podcast. The opportunity ultimately garnered so much interest that they had to turn students away, “which was a really good problem to have,” added Breann.
To get started, the students selected to participate were trained by a local podcaster on all things editing and producing and were taught how to upload the episodes to all the major streaming platforms. A new episode is released each week, fully conceptualized, written, produced and promoted across social platforms by youth. To make this all happen, the students are divided into rotating teams and are given time to research their topic and develop a script, which gets reviewed and fact-checked by Jessica and Breann.
“We can suggest certain topics and mention trends that are happening with teens, but we leave it to them to figure out how they want to approach it. They’ve also come up with some really cool topics about mental health as well, and they’re able to bring in their own personalities,” said Jessica.
“They have also started featuring Community Conversations with city and county leaders, including the Chief of Police, a resource officer and the Mayor of Pickens. That’s been a really positive outcome from this, is the growth in community partnerships. The Chief of Police was really impressed with our youth, so now we’re going to be offering teen alternative events throughout the year in partnership with the City Police Department. Next week, we’ll be co-hosting a movie night, and we’ll have a dance in October and a Christmas event come December. It’s all about creating safe places for teens to have fun, and this partnership helps to facilitate that.”
“Another positive outcome so far has been the noticeable growth in our youth board. Some new members were drawn in because they wanted to get involved in the podcast, but since they’ve joined, they’re now better educated and more capable and willing to educate their friends.”
Within three months of launching this podcast, their episodes have gotten over 600 downloads. More importantly, youth have been empowered to educate themselves on important topics, speak directly to their peers and build new skills. Their advice for any coalition interested in starting their own podcast: just jump in and get started!