GREENVILLE — The Arcanum-Butler Schools chapter of Darke County We Are the Majority held a Y-Night at the Greenville YMCA Friday evening. The event featured pizza, drinks, dodgeball, swimming, a bounce house, and other fun activities, and was sponsored by the YMCA and Coalition for a Healthy Darke County.
We Are The Majority is an after-school leadership program organized by Recovery and Wellness Centers of Midwest Ohio. The program is open to high school and middle school students throughout the county, and focuses on young people encouraging their peers to live drug and alcohol-free. Activities organized by the group include after-school study sessions for elementary and middle school students, a summer camp, art classes, and a variety show-style competition called Majority’s Got Talent.
Any student who is drug and alcohol free is able to participate in the program, which is based on the We are the Majority Initiative begun by Governor John Kasich. The driving focus of the program is to promote the fact that, despite the significance of the opioid crisis, the majority of students are not abusers of alcohol or drugs.
School counselor Ashley Matheson helped organize the Arcanum-Butler We Are the Majority chapter with her friend Kelly Harrison. Harrison is a prevention specialist at Darke County Recovery Services.
“Kelly and I have been running a life skills program at Arcanum together for nine years,” Matheson said. The program, Matheson said, focuses on making good choices, learning how and when to say no, and on anti-drug, alcohol, and tobacco use messages.
Matheson spoke about her reasons for wanting to bring We Are the Majority to Arcanum.
“The main reason, obviously, is the drug epidemic surrounding us,” Matheson said. “We hear so much negativity. I see what Kelly does in the community, and I want that for Arcanum. Our hope is that these kinds of activities will start roping the students in to join next year.”
Harrison felt that Friday’s event was a big success.
“Our student team leaders did an amazing job planning, committing to what they said they were going to do, and carrying out those plans,” Harrison said. “And the kids had a lot of fun, while also learning something important.”
Harrison started Darke County We Are the Majority in 2013. She originally had a group of only five teenagers to work with, but the group’s membership has since grown to well over 100. The program has also expanded into Greenville, Tri-Village, and Arcanum-Butler schools.
Harrison said the most rewarding part of being involved with We Are the Majority who value being drug and alcohol free encourage their younger peers to do the same thing.
“It’s empowering to see what our children are capable of doing, as far as planning events, hosting events, and showing real leadership skills,” Harrison said.
The bond that forms between students in the program is also a rewarding factor, according to Harrison.
“When these kids come together and see that they stand for the same mission, it’s really a strong friendship that forms. They become a team,” Harrison said.
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