Annual health survey shows surprising findings about Franklin County students

Eighth, 10th and 12th graders participated in the annual Teen Health Survey.


GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- A new survey revealed how a student’s background could jeopardize their future.

The Communities that Care Coalition released the results of the survey Wednesday at the Greenfield transit center. The results of this 2016 survey included 1,700 students in Franklin County and the North Quabbin. They revealed that the students background can be a significant challenge to their education.

“What the data is showing us is that not all young people have an equal opportunity for success,” said Kat Allen, Coordinator of the Communities that Care Coalition. “Many young people in Franklin County and the North Quabbin are waking up each day with greater challenges than their peers.”

Among the challenges: a student’s race, economic situation, or sexual orientation. These factors can lead to a higher risk of dangerous behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse and even suicide.

“I work with a lot of LGBTQ youth and a lot of youth of color and there;s a lot of other youth in the group as well and pretty consistently there’s a lot more barriers facing those youth,” said Tyanna Normandin, Youth Leadership Development Specialist, of the Community Youth Action Programs.

The Communities that Care coalition wants to work more with area schools to prevent these types of students from engaging in risky behaviors.

“We serve a high proportion of students who are economically disadvantaged,” said Caitlin McKenna, Guidance Counselor of Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School, in Orange. “Sometimes the services that are available aren’t enough to help some youth change their circumstances.”

McKenna told 22News these students can have insecure housing and issues with mental health and substance abuse.

The coalition has conducted this survey for the last 13 years.

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