By Dawn Hatfield
GREENVILLE — A large group of motivated students used their no-school day on Friday, April 15 to highlight the importance of living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. Darke County We Are the Majority members and their adult leader, Prevention Specialist Ashley Stonerock, met at the City Building on the sunny Good Friday morning. Mayor Steve Willman awaited their arrival as he readied an important proclamation.
We Are the Majority is an after-school organization for students in grades 7 to 12 who are focused on peer-led drug prevention. They help the community through many activities throughout the year, including after-school tutoring sessions for third- through sixth-graders in the Greenville School district. Now in its eighth year, Kelly Harrison is credited for founding the local Darke County chapter after former Governor Kasich enacted the state-wide initiative.
Stonerock said, “We have really good groups as Greenville, Mississinawa, Arcanum, Tri-Village… Our [student] leaders in the schools are taught to teach lessons, and they go into fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms. The [Greenville] leaders this year taught on peer pressure and refusal skills and reached the entire fifth and sixth grades, so 380 to maybe 400 kids. Leaders at Arcanum and Tri-Village did self-esteem. The leaders during the summer run a camp for the little kids. We have We Are the Majority Fun Days where they do a prevention lesson, and we eat lunch together and play kickball or football and go to the pool for about three hours. We do that once a week in the summer, on Tuesdays.”
Stonerock explained that getting involved is easy by joining and following the Darke County We Are the Majority Facebook page, which is nearly a thousand members strong. Events are open to students across the county, and camp registration is currently underway.
Mayor Willman then delivered and signed the proclamation, reading, “Whereas drug abuse affects every person in Darke County, Ohio, either as a family member, significant other, friend, neighbor, or employee, and whereas one of the most common misconceptions of society is the majority of young people are making detrimental decisions that affect the rest of their lives, and whereas research has continuously shown the vast majority of youth are, in actuality, making positive, healthy choices… therefore, I, Steven M. Willman, Mayor of City of Greenville, do hereby proclaim April 18 to 21, 2022, as We Are the Majority Awareness Week in Greenville, Ohio, and encourage all citizens to join together in learning more about the importance of living a positive, healthy lifestyle for a vibrant, safe, and secure community.”
Willman added, “This is a special day for everybody, and we appreciate your being part of the Majority.”
Student leader Emma Tanner, now a junior, has been involved since sixth grade. Following the proclamation, Tanner said, “Recently, we’ve seen a lot more people coming to both the lunch meetings and the community events, and a lot more people have shown enthusiasm for the program and for creating the positive changes we want to see. I think that’s really great! I love seeing the program grow.” Tanner expressed a love of all activities and events but highlighted her favorite, “I love camp; camp is definitely my favorite event of the year.” When asked what she would say to students who are not yet a part of We Are the Majority, Tanner replied, “I would tell them they’re missing out… A lot of kids would love the activities that we do. It’s great to get involved and learn our message and just have fun.”
Student Leader, Estella Williams, loves teaching the younger students in the classrooms as well as Camp Majority. Williams said, “Something we did this year was lessons on peer pressure, and that’s a big thing in middle school, you know; you want to fit in with your friends. I think the kids really enjoyed the lessons and really learned and understood what peer pressure meant and how to say no.”
Stonerock added, “They made it really fun, like with the flyswatter activity, where students had to swat the strategy they were using when given different scenarios. It was a fun way to learn [the skills].”
Tanner concluded, “Using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco is not all that it seems; it’s not good for you. Staying away from that and not letting people peer pressure you into doing so is really important.”
Following the visit with Mayor Willman, We Are the Majority members walked back to their office to enjoy a pizza party and crafts.
To get started on your prevention journey, visit the Darke County We Are the Majority Facebook page and/or sign up for news and information on preventing substance misuse and promoting mental health wellness at preventionactionalliance.org
Contact Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield at dhatfield@aimmediamidwest or 937-569-0066.