Local students attend substance abuse prevention program at WCCC

Earlier this year, a team of Southmoreland students attended an event at Westmoreland County Community College with hopes of making an impact towards lowering the amount of students in the district affected by what has become a serious epidemic in  our area.

“It was basically a student conference for brainstorming ways to convince students to stop substance abuse,” said sophomore Olivia Price who attended the Feb. 17 event. “Students from different school districts got to bounce ideas for projects off each other.”

English teacher Mrs. Jenna Hixson also attended the event. She was very impressed by the efficiency with which the event was ran and said she is “excited” for future school projects.

“Teachers brainstorm all the time about solutions to substance abuse,” said Mrs. Hixson. “It’s prohibiting learning, so in a way it’s prohibiting us from doing our jobs.”

A team of students from 22 schools in Westmoreland County attended the event, which had guest speakers such as Jim Donovan, drummer from band Rusted Root, a comedian, and representatives from the local Sage’s Army, a substance abuse prevention non-profit.

“I knew I wanted to be a part of it from the very beginning because of the student involvement,” said Mrs. Hixson. “I feel like students are more receptive to projects initiated by their peers.”

The Southmoreland students involved in the event have a few ideas they hope to bring to our school, such as an in school Health Fair and a Red Carpet Night which will be an opportunity for the entire community to view a student produced video focused on the effects of substance abuse.

“Another school mentioned they did a health fair last year and right away I loved the idea,” said Price. “I know it will be a lot of work and a lot of phone calls to put it all together, but I think it is going to be a really great opportunity for us to spread the message of healthy choices.”

Dates for both events are yet to be determined, but when the health fair comes around there will be a booth dedicated to casting students to star in the video that will be played on Red Carpet Night which will be open to everyone in the district.

“We live in a digital age with a lot of time spent daily on YouTube,” said Mrs. Hixson. “Because of this we thought a video approach might be the way to go. We will dedicate a night to viewing it then it will be online forever.”

Substance abuse is a problem that has touched almost everyone in our area, and these ideas are a first step toward approaching the issue.

“Everyone knows someone who drugs or alcohol has hurt,” said Price. “We want to do as much as we can to cut down the number of people affected, and this event really gave us that extra push.”


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