Columbus — Shannon Garrison, Savannah Chaffey and Mikaela Franks are juniors at Northwestern High School in Wayne County.
On April 30, the three donned plastic ponchos and stood in the rain outside the Ohio Statehouse, showing their support for teens who choose to refrain from using drugs. They want to role models for other students who may feel pressured into drug abuse and addiction.
“I just want to be the positive influence on those kids,” Garrison said.
The teens have heard rumors of heroin and prescription drug use in their school, though they said they don’t know anyone who has indulged.
They hope to keep it that way.
“I don’t want to be a witness of one of my friends dying from drugs,” Franks said.
The three were among more than 1,800 students who participated in a rally April 30 in Columbus, spotlighting their decision to live healthy, drug-free lifestyles. The event was organized by the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network, the Drug Free Action Alliance and several state agencies.
“One of the most common misconceptions from our society is that a majority of young people are making detrimental decisions that affect the rest of their lives,” Marcie Seidel, executive director of Drug Free Action Alliance, said in a released statement. “However, research has continuously shown that a vast majority of youth are making positive, healthy choices.”
Participants walked around Capitol Square holding signs and chanting before gathering on the west stairs of the Statehouse for speeches.
“We work in the general assembly here, in the legislature, every day to try to solve problems when people crash and when people are struggling,” said Rep. Amstutz (R-Wooster), who was among the speakers at Wednesday’s rally. “And so it’s wonderful to have you here as leaders making a difference for what’s good and what hasn’t crashed, to try to keep our people moving, to lead people. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Phyllis Jones, teen institute adviser at STEPS in Wooster, said 36 students from Chippewa, Rittman, Northwestern, Triway and Wooster schools made the trip to Columbus for the rally. It’s the third year students from Wayne County have participated.
“It’s important because we don’t very often have a showing of young people who choose to make good choices about not using alcohol, tobacco or drugs,” Jones said. “They get to be a part of huge group... to see that there are a lot of kids that don’t use.”
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.