T.E.E.N.S. group offers free summer retreat

Posted at 6:42 PM, May 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-29 20:56:51-04

Nicotine is so addictive that cravings can start to kick in after just a few cigarettes.

There is a peer-driven group called T.E.E.N.S. that teaches them about the dangers of tobacco.

The T.E.E.N.S. group is for 12 to 17-year-olds, and they meet the third Tuesday of every month at the Caldwell YMCA.

The acronym stands for "Teens Eagerly Eliminating Nicotine Substances."

Members learn about the side effects of cigarettes and chew and are taught different ways to say, 'No thanks.'

The meetings are always rounded out with fun and games.

"You get to meet new people," says Julia Santiago, a 16-year-old member of the group. "You get out of your comfort zone."

At its core, the Canyon County-based program is centered on community service.

The teenagers' hours are recorded and recognized upon graduation from the program.

"We try to show them how to be able to represent T.E.E.N.S. in a positive and professional manner," explains Frank Mendez, the coordinator for T.E.E.N.S.

Registration is now being accepted for the T.E.E.N.S. summer retreat July 8-10.

It's free for teens and their parents who want to dedicate three days to exploring downtown Boise and includes a tour of the Idaho State Capitol, which is a first for many members.

"When they walk into that Capitol, you see them come to life," Mendez says.

Participants will also get to step foot on Boise State University's campus.

Santiago hasn't decided on a major yet but still has a couple of years to decide. 

"I knew I had to get good grades to get into college, and I've been trying to get good grades all throughout middle school and high school," she says.

Anti-tobacco workshops for parents and teens will be mixed in, including a segment on bullying.

All meals and hotel accommodations are included.

Anyone who is interested can register by calling the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs agency. Their number is 208-334-3776.