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Crow Wing Youth Rally gives kids an alternative option in 'hanging-out'

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Being a teenager has never been easy.

Whether it’s dealing with bullies or feeling pressure to drink and do drugs or engage in sexual behavior, the problems remain persistent from generation to generation. But Roger Lynn, executive director of the Crow Wing County Youth Wellness Initiative, said it doesn’t have to stay that way, bringing kids a possible solution with the first annual Crow Wing Youth Rally this Saturday.

“The Minnesota Student Survey, conducted every three years, pointed out a number of issues in Crow Wing County that is troubling,” said Lynn, who helped start up the CWCYWI in 2009. “For instance (the survey reported) 12 percent of ninth grade boys are binge drinking, and one of the least safe places for kids here is in the boy’s bathroom because of all the bullying. And there seems to be a date-rape problem in Crow Wing County, too.”

“We then realized, if you are going to deal with these issues, you have to get the kids involved so we came up with the idea for a youth rally.”

Organized by the CWCYWI council of 12 students from ninth to 12th grade in Brainerd and Crosby, Lynn said that having the kids plan the rally was the biggest part because, “who knows better what kids today are dealing with than the kids themselves.”

“It’s (the rally) an event to help bring awareness to kids that there is a lot of underage drinking and drug use, along with sexual abuse, here in Crow Wing County and the Brainerd area,” said Nick Welch, senior at Brainerd High School on the CWCYWI council. “We want to use this to show kids that there are other ways to use your time than just those things.”

Set from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. at Central Lakes College, the rally will feature games, dancing, food and refreshments along with breakout groups where kids will be able to talk about the problems that they face everyday. Welch said he hopes the rally brings out at least 100 people, fellow classmates and CWCYWI council members, Caleb Tautges says he’s eager to show students that they are not alone in the difficult decisions and issues kids today face.

“This rally is going to be a good way to show people that you don’t have to face these issues alone,” Tautges said. “And it will show kids that you don’t have to drink and you don’t have to have sex in order to have fun or deal with these problems.

“I think it’s going to be event that will get people talking and keep them talking after they leave.”

There is no fee for students to attend and a sign-up is available during lunch periods at the Brainerd High School and on the CWCYWI Facebook page.

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5858 or Follow her on Twitter at