Students lead presentations about prevention education
During a seven-school prevention education forum, American Preparatory Academy students performed a dance to the 1970s disco song, “YMCA,” with changed lyrics to give the message, “stay in school.” (Julie Slama/City Journals)
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American Preparatory Academy (APA) sophomore Cassandra Butler practiced a variation of the “YMCA” dance with her classmates for several weeks leading up to the Communities Talk, a student-led prevention education forum held in Draper on Jan. 23.
APA students first showed a video that addressed goals of college and careers, then danced to the 1970s disco song “YMCA” with the words changed to “stay in school.”
“It was fun to perform with a group,” Cassandra said. “I made a commitment to no drugs and alcohol, but I’ve realized what a problem there is. I liked how we got together with other schools to put this on and keep our audience engaged in learning about the issues out there.”
Students from seven secondary schools in Draper presented skits, songs and speeches about topics such as e-cigarettes, marijuana, depression and suicide, peer refusal skills, underage drinking and other risk factors found in schools, said Gaile Dupree, prevention coalition coordinator of Draper Communities that Care Coalition.
Draper Communities that Care is a coalition focused on shaping the future of Draper by creating opportunities for youth. The opportunities are created through preventative and collaborative community-wide efforts by reducing at-risk behaviors, such as substance abuse, and in turn promoting healthy behaviors.
“We wanted to bring all our youth together and have this to be student-let so they take ownership of preventing problems in their community,” Dupree said.
Dupree said that according to the risk prevention survey students filled out in 2015, substance abuse problems already are beginning in sixth grade.
“We need to have conversations with our kids as early as age eight. We need to return to having meals with the family at least once per week,” she said.
Students were given information both in presentations as well as at tables following event, which was attended by Draper Mayor Troy Walker as well as city and community leaders.
“We want to give our youth the tools, resources and support to make the best decisions possible,” Police Chief Bryan Roberts said. “We want to stop substance abuse behavior.”
St. John the Baptist Middle School students began the student-led performances with a panel discussing the risks of e-cigarettes and how they are targeted for youth with flavors such as bubble gum, gummy bear and mango tango.
St. John counselor Josh Flores said he put the project in the hands of his students.
“They put together the presentation and even took a survey of students to prepare and provide first-hand research,” he said. “It was eye-opening to them. They wanted to include a lot of resources so people would know where to get help.”
Channing Hall presented a student video they wrote based on the “Three Little Pigs.” In the play, students showed the impact of marijuana with mind function.
Summit Academy students addressed how Utah is No. 4 in the country in prescription drug abuse and how it is most commonly accessed from family members. Their facts were presented through a quiz game and balloon-popping trivia game, a poem and a song. They also shared that Draper City has a prescription drop box located near city hall to discard old medication.
Draper Park Middle School students presented a video about suicide prevention they created, then provided resources about how to step in to help and provide resources, such as “QPR is like CPR to save lives — question, persuade and refer.”
Draper Park Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association President Bryn Johnson said students picked parts to perform as well as did the camera and sound work.
“The students took the issues seriously as our community faced a lot a few years ago and it affected these kids,” she said. “They showed a lot of maturity for middle school students.”
Through a skit, members of the Corner Canyon High Peer Leadership Team demonstrated the five-step peer refusal skills — ask what is going on, identify any trouble, state the consequences such as if someone could get hurt or in trouble since it’s against the rules, provide an alternative activity, and go somewhere else but give a choice to the person suggesting the negative activity to join in another positive choice.
Juan Diego Catholic High School sophomore and debate student Abby Whittington spoke to the audience about underage drinking and how 7.7 million people from age 12 to 20 drank more than “just a sip” in 2015. She said parents need to start caring about teen activities, being good models and reaching out to turn around situations when teends struggle in school.
Abby’s sister, Katie, welcomed everyone to the forum. The evening’s narrator was Kaitlyn Wampler, a senior at Corner Canyon.
Juan Diego counselor Beth Clemenger said the event provided the audience a lot of good information.
“There’s a good value in prevention and working as a community and as parents and educators, we realize that,” Clemenger said. “We want to create conversations in families and discuss our values, raise awareness and provide resources.”