What is REACT, anyway?
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.
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