Mythbusters: Arlington Teen Network Board
Why I think it is important for Kansas government officials to operate in the light of day, rather than in secret, behind closed doors:
A local youth leadership board leading anti-substance abuse campaigns.
The Arlington Teen Network Board is sponsored by the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families in collaboration with the Arlington READY (Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol & Drug use by Youth) Coalition in Virginia.
In just five short months, the Teen Network Board has facilitated multiple county-wide projects. The year started with peer and adult education at a local festival; the students ran a booth and engaged other teens to declare what they will remain "Above the Influence" of.
To share facts about drug and substance abuse, the Board recently gave their local teen peers the chance to win a water bottle or t-shirt by answering a question related to drugs and alchol at a local event. Whether the teen got the answer correct or not, the Committee members reinforced the correct answer and the ability of young people to make healthy choices for themselves.
Another recent activity was "Sticker Shock." In October 2013, Board members from different committees of Arlington partnered with the City of Alexandria and shocked the purchasers of alcohol by placing bright red warning stickers on multi-pack of beers, wine coolers, and other types of alcohol products in Arlington convenient stores such as Safeway, Giant, CVS, Walgreens and 7 Eleven. The stickers contained warnings about the serious penalties and consequences for purchasing alcohol to minors.
Sticker Shock was a youth-led event with the purpose of educating adults who might be pressured or tempted to purchase alcohol legally and provide it to youths. The campaign was covered by local news.
Later that month, the teens executed a countywide event at four local high schools for National Above the Influence Day. The members gave out free T-shirts, key chains and candy while asking teens to fill in the blank "I am Above the Influence of ____." The activity received recognition from the school principals.
Check out video highlights of the Board in action on Above the Influence Day:
Now, the students are planning a "Mythbusters: Parent Edition." The students have organized to go into PTAs to bust parents' myths about the drinking culture in high school. The teens show dedication and enthusiasm to educating their community about safe and healthy habits. The projects they have conducted have not been easy, yet they have put in the time and effort to be a helpful and educational resource for others.
The current members of the Arlington Teen Network Board are: Kateri Gajadhar and Deby Melendez (Committee Chairs), Brian Tran, Ethan Chase, Masha Winchell, Bethlehem Demissie, Prisila Otazo, Nancy Rosas, Eva Chaves, Benzon Cando, Susanna Kelly, Misheel Ganbat, Beatriz Valentine.