Corner Canyon High students aim to improve Draper’s substance abuse problems
Members of Corner Canyon High’s Peer Leadership Team (PLT) traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a national conference on how to create an action plan to reduce substance abuse in their community. Here, PLT members take part in Draper’s Communities that Care sponsored night where they shared peer refusal skills. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
Six Peer Leadership Team (PLT) members from Corner Canyon High learned ways they could help their community after attending the national Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America Conference.
The conference, held Feb. 6 through Feb. 10 in Washington, D.C., combined learning leadership skills and ways to approach substance abuse and bullying situations.
“We learned how to analyze our community to addresses issues that need to be improved,” junior Nic D’Amico said. “We want to provide more service and take the initiative as PLT members to help our community.”
Junior Nic Fink said they learned how to use information they knew to put in an action plan.
“We created a problem statement: youth vaping Draper,” he said. “Then, identified how to deal with it, such as risk factors, social access — easy to get to vaping and who to talk to about making it illegal or harder to obtain. We saw the problem, that is easy enough, and realize that we need to take action, which is harder.”
Through a break-out session, the students were able to identify places they knew where people get and use abusive substances, said junior Gianna Gist.
“We want to speak to our representatives and senators as well as our local leaders on how to change regulations so it isn’t as easy to get these things, like e-cigs,” she said.
Many of the students realize there are problems with e-cigarettes at their school and know students who vape.
Corner Canyon senior Cole Barkey said that while on the football team, he realized he was headed on a path downward with substance abuse.
“It’s not who I am or what I wanted to be like so I got involved in PLT,” he said. “I know from past experience, who is involved and where they are getting it. Some don’t even hide it. We all know a couple friends who are doing it and when it’s happening and where.”
Senior Kaitlyn Wamper said part of what they learned is how to better inform students and spread the word on the issues involved in using e-cigs.
“We want to help spread the word through our school health and wellness week and at Draper Days,” she said. “We’re working with the Draper Communities that Care coalition, the police, Salt Lake County Health Department and others to reduce vaping and substance abuses and know the health issues concerning them.”
Fink said his own family went through the effects of substance abuse after his mother got involved in it.
“My parents ended up divorcing, but it affects everyone and often people don’t realize that. High schoolers don’t realize the adverse effects it has. I’ve personally seen how bad decisions affect others and would like to see that stopped,” he said.
Other common substance abuse issues, such as alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs, recently were addressed in a multi-school community presentation coordinated by Draper’s Communities that Care coalition, in which Corner Canyon PLT took part.
Junior Abby Smith said that attending the national conference helped them build a base for implementation this year to impact their school and community.
“We have an opportunity to take the initiative with these issues this year and to continue serving our community next year,” she said.
In addition to attending the conference, the students with their adviser Russ Boyer visited many Washington, D.C. sights, including several monuments and memorials, Museum of Natural History, Gallery of Art, U.S. Holocaust Museum and Arlington Cemetery, where they saw Draper Police Officer Derek Johnson’s name on a memorial for fallen officers.
The six students who attended the conference were selected for their involvement and leadership with PLT at their school and community through planning, organizing and holding eight in-class assemblies at Corner Canyon as well as involving middle schools in pledging to stay tobacco-free, said Lauren Bartsch, Salt Lake County health educator in the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program.
The students received a grant in January to attend the conference through the Utah Strategic Prevention Framework Partnership for Success Project in Salt Lake County, which uses prevention services for underage drinking and substance abuse prevention.