Perhaps you have seen the tee shirts on young people around town? Maybe you recall seeing a REACT member at Christmas in Clinton, running the Elf on the Shelf game? When reading the Harbor News, your eyes caught “REACT” in the byline of a photograph? What exactly is REACT and what do they do?
REACT stands for Reality Even Affects Clinton Teens, and is a youth leadership club for Clinton students in grades 4-12 run by Partners in Community. With a substance free foundation, REACT teaches all ages of students about the 40 developmental assets (as identified by the Search Institute in Michigan) and empowers them with skills and opportunities to become leaders. Younger students in Pierson and Eliot meet monthly and learn about topics such as peer pressure, resistance skills, conflict management, social media, media literacy, and role models. Morgan REACT meets two times per month and students plan community activities such as the annual Haunted Hallways fundraiser, Christmas in Clinton, and a drug-free overnight at school called Spirit Night. All REACT students are given opportunities in the community to serve and represent their peers. REACT members serve on boards such as PiC, Planning and Zoning, and the Board of Education. They give important information on peer norms and behaviors that assist PiC in creating effective action plans to decrease substance use amongst teens. As Morgan students, REACT members can apply to attend local and national conferences in locations such as Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Colorado and California!
Morgan REACT students assist in the facilitation of the Eliot and Pierson REACT meetings, forming meaningful relationships with the younger students. This provides the older students with an opportunity to practice skills such as communication, role modeling, and organization. The younger students learn from their older peers in an active, experiential way, and the relationships that are formed act as “positive peer pressure”. The older students are great role models for the younger ones, and then are great mentors as the younger ones move up to Morgan. The fears of “not knowing anyone” as students move from one school to the next are lessened by these established connections with older mentors.
REACT’s goals are the following:
1. Students will understand the developmental assets and how they relate to healthy lifestyles and choices.
2. Students will be aware of the role of each asset in their life, family, school and community.
3. Students will recognize how they have influence within each asset, and how they can actively influence change for the better.
4. Students will develop and sustain positive relationships with Morgan REACT students and PiC staff.
5. Students will leave group able to have meaningful discussion with their families about assets and healthy choices.
There is also a REACT component for parents! Pierson and Eliot parents meet every other month and learn about Clinton adolescent alcohol and drug use trends, communication techniques to talk with their children, and developmental asset information. Parent REACT empowers adults to speak with youth about difficult topics. In addition, parent and students meet at the same time every other month and often will enjoy the same activity so that they have a common experience to process after each meeting.
The parent component of REACT realizes that parents are the #1 prevention strategy! The majority of teens say that their decision NOT to use drugs or alcohol was their parents’ well-communicated expectation that they not use as teenagers. Fear of disappointing their parents or receiving some other negative consequence remains the top reason teens choose not to use substances according to research in the U.S. REACT parents will be given information and opportunities to discuss and share techniques for communicating with their children.
If you are interested in any of the REACT groups, please contact Kelley Edwards are 860-664-1142 or email Kelley’s email.
Clinton students in Austin, TX
REACT, which stands for Reality Even Affects Clinton Teens, is substance-free group for Pierson, Eliot and Morgan students that focuses on fun, leadership skills, and peer support for positive decision making. Read on for more information about each group.
Morgan REACT is a club for any Clinton 9-12 grader, whether they attend Morgan or another high school.
Morgan REACT meets twice per month in the evening and focuses on leadership skill development, identifying personal strengths, peer support, and substance abuse prevention.
Morgan REACT’s major project is Haunted Hallways which raises funds for Clinton Social Services. Haunted Hallways is always held the Sunday evening before Halloween.
Morgan REACT also participates in Christmas in Clinton, Family Day, and many other Clinton town events. All members are offered community service opportunities throughout the school year. Some members attend state and national conferences and trainings, and have also testified at the state capitol.
Eliot REACT includes Eliot 6-8 grade students in fun, engaging meetings once per month. Every other month, parents are included in the monthly meetings. Students and parents are educated on the 40 Developmental Assets, which are the building blocks of positive decision making, through group games, individual challenges and other fun activities.
Eliot REACT members offer the Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt game at Christmas in Clinton and attract a lot of attention at the Medication Take Back Days at the police department. They also complete peer education programs in school on topics such as marijuana, underage drinking, and overall health.
Morgan REACT members assist with all Eliot meetings, serving as positive role models for the younger students.
Pierson REACT involves 4th and 5th grade students and their parents in monthly meetings from October—June. Similar to Eliot REACT, the focus of the meetings is learning about the 40 Developmental Assets as well as positive family communication. Behavioral research has shown that the #1 deterrents of underage substance use are positive family communication and clearly stated parental expectations.
Pierson REACT members enjoy group games, team building, role playing and challenges to learn about the assets. Pierson students are also involved with community service projects, including Christmas in Clinton. Giving young people opportunities to be leaders in the community strengthens self esteem and assists youth in making healthy decisions.
Morgan REACT members mentor the Pierson students and provide positive peer role models throughout the school year.
Parents are given information on drug use trends in Clinton, tips for communicating with their young people, and can connect with one another for their own peer support network.
Starting REACT at the Pierson level gives your young person a club to “belong” to throughout their Clinton school experience! REACT can be that bridge between schools that helps them transition with a group of friends and older peers.
For information on any of these clubs please call 860-664-1142.
Every two or three years since 2005, Partners in Community has surveyed the Clinton 7-12 grade students on the Developmental Assets. The Search Institute out of Minnesota has identified 40 research-based, positive qualities that influence young people’s development, helping them become become caring, responsible, and productive adults. PiC has followed the Clinton survey data from 2005-2014 to see how much progress we are making in our efforts to increase all of the assets in our young people.
While all of the assets are important to a young person’s development and healthy decision making abilities, PiC has focused their work on the following assets: family communication (#2), community values youth (#7), resistance skills (#35), positive peer influence (#15), and planning and decision making (#32). When PiC began surveying youth in grades 7-12 in 2005, the following percentages of students reported having the above assets:
Positive Family Communication 27%
Community Values Youth 16%
Resistance Skills 40%
Positive Peer Influence 63%
Planning/Decision Making 25%
PiC was quite concerned with the majority of those percentages. While peer influence looked pretty good at 63%, we also realized that peers are one of the most influential forces in adolescent decision making. If we could raise that number even higher, the likelihood of our youth staying on a healthy track would increase!
The REACT programs directly target the peer influence asset, as well as resistance skills and planning and decision making. Youth are empowered as leaders to use the voice in the community to communicate their experiences, their needs, and their abilities. REACT youth are serving on the PiC board, the Board of Education, the Planning and Zoning Board, as well as some state of Connecticut boards focusing on prevention of substance use. They are Girl and Boy Scout leaders, Eagle Scouts, and members of Student Council. Having the ability to make a positive impact at the school and community level helps our teens strive for healthy, productive lives.
The Family OlymPiCs, World Cafe’s, Sofa Socials, and ToPiC presentations that PiC offers all directly target the Positive Family Communication asset. Families are encouraged to educate themselves on drug and alcohol trends and communication strategies through these events. Parents use one another as resources to increase the number of skills in their parenting tool kits, which strengthens their conversations with their children. PiC’s belief that “it takes a village to raise a child” empowers every member of the community to take part in the well being of our youth. Building relationships with young people in all sectors of town (sports, school, employment, community service, music, art, etc) makes the youth feel important and capable and brings Clinton residents closer together.
Since the implementation of the PiC initiatives, the percentages of youth reporting the targeted assets has increased significantly! Check out the 2014 results: (2005 percentages are in parentheses)
Positive Family Communication (27%) 44%
Community Values Youth (16%) 36%
Resistance Skills (40%) 56%
Positive Peer Influence (63%) 75%
Planning/Decision Making (25%) 39%
Click on the link below to view substance use trends amongst Clinton, Madison and Guilford students:
Shoreline Substance Use Data
It is exciting to see that early age use of alcohol is decreasing in Clinton! Far fewer 7th and 8th graders are using alcohol, and the numbers of high school students drinking is also falling. Tobacco use continues to decrease in Clinton as well, although many students report trying E-cigs, which may be this generation’s trend of tobacco use. Marijuana use is still low in Clinton’s younger grades, but is growing slightly for older students. This is not a surprise in light of the mass marketing of how “safe” marijuana is, and how it is considered medicine. Our students are not getting the clear message that use of marijuana can severely impair the teen brain, which is one of the goals of PiC for the upcoming months.
Clinton is definitely making progress in building assets. We have a-ways to go before we are at a comfortable level, with the majority of our youth reporting having most of the assets. There is a place for each community member at the table for this endeavor! How can you build a relationship with a young person? Start by saying hello! Ask what grade they are in, what their interests are! Young people are always happy when they are noticed by community elders.
If you want to be more involved in PiC’s initiatives, please come to our next meeting! We would be thrilled to have you at the table to help us brainstorm and plan for the well-being of our town! For more information on all of the assets, substance use rates or PiC in general, call 860-664-1142 or email Kelley Edwards at email@example.com.