Six Morgan teens travelled with five Daniel Hand (Madison) students to Bryant University in Providence, RI.
From July 28-31, 2017, six Morgan students took part in Youth 2 Youth International’s Eastern States Conference at Bryant University in Providence, RI. Along with 560 fellow students from the tri-state area and as far away as Minnesota and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Morgan students learned essential information about preventing marijuana and opioid use, underage drinking, and making a positive impact in their communities and schools.
The keynote speakers at the conference challenged the attendees to expand their self awareness and advocacy. One speaker watched her twin sister perish as a passenger in a reckless driving accident as a teenager. Her message reminded youth to put their own comfort and safety first, and offered creative ways to escape uncomfortable situations. Another presenter acted out numerous versions of himself and challenged the audience to try to guess which character most represented the “real” him. Most were surprised to learn which one it actually was! His message brought forth the importance of realizing ALL people are real, are never just a stereotype, and have valid and moving stories that make them who they are.
The Clinton teens returned to town feeling armed with new information and motivated to educate their peers. Following the conference, several of the conference attendees met to plan out a new calendar for Morgan REACT. This school year, look for mental illness and health information, education about vaping and related dangers to your health, more marijuana “truths”, as well as an honoring of Suicide Awareness Month in September. Haunted Hallways will still be offered in October, and the club members will host topic and issue discussions throughout the school year. Morgan REACT members will continue to be involved with the younger Eliot and Pierson REACTs as well as PiC!
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
Curious to know more about the hazards of the over-prescription of pain killers and how that is leading to heroin tragedies? What about the truths of marijuana use, especially for teens?
Here are several links to articles discussing these worrisome realities in 2016:
Prescription Drugs and Heroin: