DARKE COUNTY – With the help of Recovery & Wellness Centers of Midwest Ohio and funding from the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health, Darke County students are joining together to let their peers know that it’s okay to not do drugs, because there are “so many better options,” they said.
“We’re trying to show the kids at our high school, and the kids in junior high who are getting ready to be in high school, that the majority of kids don’t go to parties, and that they don’t drink or do drugs,” said Chloe Lance, a senior at Greenville High School and member of We are the Majority, a peer leadership group hoping to change the common misconception that “everyone is doing it.”
We are the Majority began in April 2014, so they’re still a pretty new group, but Kelly Harrison, prevention specialist with Recovery & Wellness Centers of Midwest Ohio, said that it’s going well.
“We want to share with the community, as well, because a lot of times in the media we see the negative, and that’s anywhere,” Harrison explained. “There’s a lot of talk these days about overdoses and people doing things they shouldn’t, which obviously is out there, but we want to give some publicity to the kids in our community who are making good choices.”
Some of the students “have a heart” for service, Harrison stated, while others have made the decision to make better choices, and being part of We are the Majority is a way to let others know, Harrison said. There are students from around the county, including Greenville, Ansonia, Union City, and Arcanum, she shared, and they’re talking to their peers, whether in the form of skits at the junior high or helping with First Fridays events in downtown Greenville, she added.
“You don’t have to do drugs to have fun,” Alex Lance, a junior at GHS, explained. “There are so many better options than doing drugs.”
Some of those options might be finding an extracurricular activity to be involved in, or volunteering in the community, the students said.
Libby Jenkinsen, a senior at Mississinawa Valley High School, said that she enjoys sleeping, and suggested focusing on improving grades or skills to stay busy and to help make bad decisions.
“I’m involved in so many things,” Chloe Lance explained, “that it would negatively impact everything [if I did drugs], and I wouldn’t be able to stay focused or do as well in the things I enjoy.”
Tiana Brock, a 13-year-old Greenville Junior High student, said she prefers to spend time with her friends and family, fishing, drawing and volunteering.
“Find something you enjoy doing, and just focus on that,” one student said. “Think about the consequences of your actions, and use that to make better choices.”
We are the Majority hopes to begin a once-a-week after-school study program for children in grades three through six, Harrison explained, where group members will help the younger students, as studies show it’s more effective, Harrison said. The group will also do a service leadership activity or holiday activity once a month, she added.
“Peer leadership is a huge initiative right now,” Harrison said of We are the Majority. “Among Ohio’s 88 counties, there are different types of peer leadership programs…So that was the inspiration for this group. We’ve extended this larger program into our community on an ongoing, long-term basis. This is all about how the students feel we should move forward.”
Life skills lessons help teach the students basic refusal skills, and how to feel good about themselves despite not giving in to peer pressure, Harrison said.
“The life skills piece helps them build the strength to deal with these things [drugs, alcohol, peer pressure],” Harrison stated.
Students interested in getting involved can email Kelly Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.