GRC’s Drug Free Youth Club spreads awareness

Published 3:55 pm Friday, April 19, 2024

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Numerous student groups are active at George Rogers Clark High School. 

One such example is GRC’s Drug Free Youth Club, consisting of approximately 25 students and welcome to all yet composed largely of juniors. They made their actions known as students attended the recent Kentucky Youth Tobacco Control Conference in Frankfort hosted by Networking for Kentucky Youth and #iCanendthetrend Youth Advisory Board. 

“We started the Drug Free Youth Club a couple years ago here at GRC. The intention then was just to promote a drug-free lifestyle both amongst the students that attended the club and kind of encourage and educate, as well as promote a drug-free lifestyle amongst the students in the community as a whole,” said Chelsea Mobley, an English teacher at GRC who helps sponsor the club. “[We want to] take the Drug Free Youth Club students and make them leaders…it’s been  good so far.” 

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Though still a young program, Mobley notes that previous actions have been taken such as participating in what they call a Walk Against Drugs during Red Ribbon Week. 

The Red Ribbon Campaign is the largest drug-abuse prevention campaign in the United States. 

“There were different stations set up where students could learn some more about the dangers of things like vaping,” Mobley said.

At the conference, students had an opportunity to gather with organizations and other students dedicated to the same cause. 

“I was hoping we’d get some ideas to bring back to our community, which we did,” Mobley said. “The students were really inspired by what they saw. It was also a great way to dip our toes into looking at [not only] high school student-focused, but looking into the broader community as well.”

Among many different topics focused on during the conference were the relationship between mental health and tobacco use, policies and how companies use advertising to appeal to particular age groups and its detriment, and more. 

Yet, that’s not all. 

On a positive note, the GRC students took home first place in an art contest entered into at the conference. 

Specifically, students were tasked with tackling the subject of vaping, which is more common among younger generations and a concern to many.

“My students wrote a poem about the harmless sounding, candy sounding flavors that vapes come in, and how that appeals more to teenagers and how that candy flavor hides something that’s much more dangerous,” Mobley said. “They acted it out and had a…video where you follow along with a student who’s struggling with addiction, and they had the poem as kind of a voice-over or some of the characters saying it within the video.”

Jessica Burns, a Health Education Specialist with the Clark County Health Department that sometimes collaborates with the Drug Free Youth Club, expressed appreciation for the group’s actions and impact. 

“I hope that….students really get to see…[others] like the students that are in the Drug Free Youth Club,” Burns said. “I am just continually inspired by these students.” 

When asked what she hopes students took away from the conference, Mobley spoke. 

“It brought out their compassion and their desire to help.” she said. “To see the reasons why people might become addicted or get involved with drugs…they felt empathy for them. They understood it in a way they hadn’t before, and they brought it back here [to Winchester] to think about.”