By Samantha SLAYBACK
Teen drug and alcohol consumption is a serious concern for parents. While efforts are being made to inform parents how to deal with these problems should they arise, many parents are still uncomfortable and uninformed when it comes to discussing this topic with their children. In an effort to make it easier for both teens and parents, CV Youth Alliance president Makayla Rabago and her mother Julia have created Orange Fest.
“We were inspired when we noticed minimal opportunities for parents and teens to be well informed on issues surrounding drugs and alcohol as well as minimal activities for teens to enjoy in a safe environment,” explained Makayla.
Orange Fest, set to take place on Saturday, Aug. 15 at CV Park, is a two-part community event. The festival will be open to the public and free for both parents and teens to attend. The first part is geared toward parents and will be held in the county building of CV Park, 3901 Dunsmore Ave., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. During this time, parents will be able to ask local experts about issues of teen alcohol and drug abuse. Adults are also encouraged to use this event as an opportunity to remove unused, unwanted or expired medicines from their homes because there will be a drug take-back event as well.
The second part is for teens and will take place in the county building as well as the parking lot in front of the dog park from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. This, too, is a time for them to become more informed by having the opportunity to talk to local experts.
To liven up the event for everyone, there will also be a carnival from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be rides, games, and entertainment for teens, as well as organizations that encourage positive behaviors, such as make-up artists, personal trainers, and more.
“We wanted to create an event that could engage teens in ways that would resonate with them – it’s sometimes hard to educate teens without boring them,” said Makayla. “With Orange Fest, we hope we can entertain and educate.”
Both Makayla and her mother hope that this will be an event that builds community by being interactive. So, as an added bonus, should teens choose to take part in the expo walk-through between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. they will receive a wristband good for free food from any of the four food trucks at the carnival.
Makayla and her mother raised all the funds necessary to put on the event by reaching out to local organizations for donations.
“We had levels: ‘orange’, ‘tangerine’, and ‘kumquat,’” said Makayla. “It was a fun way to get the entire community involved.”
While the event is intended to be a good time for everyone, Makayla and Julia’s overall goal is for both parents and teens to be informed.
“We want parents to leave feeling more confident and educated to take on the issues facing our teens,” explained Makayla. “We want teens to leave feeling empowered and knowing that they can have fun without drugs and alcohol.”
Makayla and the CV Youth Alliance hope and plan for this to become an annual event. While this is the first Orange Fest, they are sure it will not be the last.