Youth Community Coalition

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COLUMBIA - The Youth Community Coalition will host its third annual legislative forum at Hickman High School Tuesday night.

The forum promotes discussion between community leaders and members about a variety of topics including mental health, bullying and health care.

State government leaders such as Rep. Chuck Bayse, R - Rocheport, Rep. Sara Walsh, R - Ashland and Rep. Martha Stevens, D - Columbia, will be in attendance.

Bayse has attended the forum every year and said it's important for him to be active in the communities he serves.

"I hope to have a positive impact on somebody whether it’s one person or several," Bayse said. "I’m not perfect, but anything we do to promote better our community is necessary."

This year, the forum is focusing on youth substance abuse - more specifically on how the opioid epidemic is affecting youth and their families.

Coordinator for the Youth Community Coalition Ron Rowe said the forum is a chance for the community to talk with legislators about what they believe are the most pressing issues for teens, and how they plan to solve them.

"We wanted to engage our elected leaders in any way that we could. They make decisions that affect youth and we want to make sure they have good information when they make those decisions," Rowe said.

In previous years, the coalition struggled to get teens to show up to the event. The discussions typically consisted of teachers, parents and local leaders.

This year, Rowe is trying to change that.

"We have reached out not just to CPS high schools and middle schools, but to our outer school districts. We asked that they send some students and we're hoping that some will come," Rowe said.

He said the forum is open anyone in the area who has an interest or concern for youth.