Some high school students are tiring of their peers’ casual attitude toward drugs and alcohol.
“I see kids every day talk about it like it’s no big deal, and it is a big deal,” Denver Pratt, a junior at Helena High School, said in a presentation at Fort Harrison Monday. “I think that we have to change the way that our youth and that our communities look at this drug abuse problem and this alcohol problem, and I think that the way to reach these kids is through us — through their peers and through the youth.”
So Pratt and seven other area students are busy raising funds for a February trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the National Youth Leadership Institute, presented by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.
They’ll bring home leadership and problem-solving skills that they can then make use of here in Montana, said Montana Army National Guard Counterdrug Coordinator, Lt. Col. Garth Scott. He and Drenda Carlson, director of Helena Youth Connections Coalition, have been meeting with the teens regularly, planning fundraising and team-building activities and helping organize.
“What we’re doing is breaking down barriers (and) building relationships for stronger healthy communities,” Scott said.
The group has a fundraising event, including a “battle of the bands,” planned for Jan. 15 at the Staggering Ox, along with events related to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Amy Heldt, a sophomore at Helena High School has seen the impact of alcoholism.
“As I got into high school, I started seeing my friends and classmates making the same decisions,” she said. “So the reason dearest to my heart in going on this is to learn ways to prevent this from happening again.”
She’s vice president of a Helena High anti-drug group there with 117 students who have pledged not to use drugs and alcohol.
“There are so many students there who are on drugs or on alcohol just because they want to fit in and they want to be cool,” said Daniela Rosales, also a junior at Helena High.
Also planning to go to Washington in February are Magdylyn Rauser and Jessica Ward of Broadwater High School, and Jessica Newman, Brandon Kosola and Jenna Senechal of Jefferson High School.
The Washington event is Feb. 7-11. The group also expects to meet with members of the Montana congressional delegation.
“And they get to represent Montana, which I think is a great thing on a national level,” said Scott.
Carlson is handling the travel arrangement. Donations for the trip can be sent to the Helena School District Business Center, 55 S. Rodney St., Helena MT 59601 or made by contacting Carlson at 324-1032.
Reporter Sanjay Talwani:
447-4086 or firstname.lastname@example.org