Middle School Volition Youth members challenged their peers to complete a St. Patrick’s Day scavenger hunt around school March 11-15. St. Patrick’s Day-themed shapes were hidden around school. Under the shapes were facts about prescription pills, underage drinking, tobacco, and marijuana. Students were tasked with finding four different shapes/ facts and writing them out on the green scavenger hunt forms, also placed around school. Home base teachers were also given directions and forms for students. Once completed, students had the opportunity to turn their completed form in at lunch for a prize. 22 students completed the scavenger hunt.
21 Volition Youth were interviewed, selected, and trained to be a Peers With Purpose presenter in 2019. Youth were first interviewed by Mr. Rivera, high school social worker and co-adviser for the high school youth group. Students then completed a 2.5 hour training during school in February, led by veteran student presenters. Youth were divided into three groups to present the content to 8th grade students at Forest Park Middle School. On the day of the training, youth presenters conducted the interactive content to over 350 8th grader students over 12 class periods. Content included information and activities on drugs, alcohol, prescription pills, and tobacco. 8th grade student seemed engaged in the content.
The February Volition Franklin Success Series at Franklin High School focused on mindfulness. Students had the opportunity to sign up for the Success Series during their “Gold Block” time during school. Mr. Rivera, the school social worker, led a short lesson about mindfulness and being conscious of our minds, body, and spirit. We discussed the need to the aware of our surroundings and the need to clear our minds at times. One strategy to do this, is through a mindfulness jar. Students created a mindfulness jar by mixing a variety of glitter and sequins so that when shaken, the glitter slowly settles to the bottom of the jar. Watching the glitter slowly settle allows one to relax, clear the mind of stressors, “let go”, and focus on oneself in a healthy way. Students also personalized their jar with stickers. One student made a jar for their friend who was going through an especially difficult time. Later that day, it was observed that students posted their mindfulness jars on their social media accounts with the lessons they learned that day.
Volition Youth members put labels on candy that said “there is nothing sweet about vaping”. At the middle school, a bag of candy and information about e-cigarettes and how sweet flavors target and lure youth into trying such an addicting product, was given to each Home Base teacher to distribute to their class. At the high school, Volition Youth members each took a bag of candy to distribute to their classes or during lunch. About 2,000 middle and high school students were reached during this activity.
Volition youth members participated in presented to all 8th grade Forest Park Middle School students about vaping and how to be an advocate. The high school Athletics Director led a presentation about vaping, health effects, and addiction. The students then broke out into three subgroups—how vaping effects athletics and activities, the health effects of vaping on the body, and how to be a positive peer influence. Volition Youth members presented content about advocacy, how to be a positive peer influence, and demonstrated refusal skills. In one of the activities, 8th grade students were asked to write how they were a positive peer influence. Some examples they provided were:
· I’m a good peer to my fiends because I support them in what they want to do that’s good
· My friends feel open to ask me for help/ advice and I make sure they know that
· I’m good a cheering people up
· I accept them for who they are and encourage them to stay strong
About 75 8th grade students chose to attend this breakout session. Six Volition Youth members presented over the course of four days (eight presentations).
Volition Youth members participated in the Milwaukee County Light and Unite Red week, coinciding with National Drug and Alcohol Fact Week. At the middle and high school, students read announcements each day with facts about tobacco, vaping, underage drinking, and marijuana and prescription medications. Members also made memes about vaping. The memes were then placed in a collage with various facts about vaping that were taped to each bathroom stall door. Per members, the posters were greatly talked about at school. Some teachers commented that the memes were funny. During the lunch period at each school, members asked other students to write how they are a positive peer influence on a red “feather”. Red pencils depicting the Volition logo and “Students Light the Way” were given to participants. The feathers were then arranged in two giant wings. For the rest of the week, students could take their photo with the wings and post to their social media accounts. About 300 students at each school participated in this project. Members noted that some students posted their pictures on snapchat or Instagram. Members also noted that because the wings were in the main commons and lunch room at school, some students felt shy to take their photo by them. It was suggested to place the wings in a more discrete location next time. Each school was also encouraged to wear the color red on Friday. Some members and students received a Volition Franklin Lights the Way t-shirt to wear.
The Volition Franklin Success Series at Franklin High School continues in 2019. Students had the opportunity to sign up for the Success Series during their “Gold Block” time during school. Mr. Rivera, the school social worker, led a short lesson about bullying and being conscious of the actions, words, and choices we make. Students created buttons with positive messaging on them to distribute before school. They also made a sign to hold that said “Be Strong” encouraging others to have the strength to stand up to bullying if they see it happening and the strength to overcome bullying. The school districts has an anti-bullying day on the first Wednesday of every month. The buttons were given to students as they came into school at that time.
On December 18, 2018, Franklin’s Common Council voted to include electronic cigarettes in the current tobacco ordinance. With support from partners’ the Franklin Police Department, Franklin Public Schools, and the Franklin Board of Health, members of Volition Franklin Youth FACT group educated the council about electronic smoking devices which contains cancer-causing chemicals in youth-appealing fruit and candy flavors. Many of these devices contain high levels of nicotine, which is damaging to the developing brain.
The day of the ordinance proposal, U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams issued an advisory stressing the importance of protecting children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated health risks by immediately addressing the epidemic of youth e- cigarette use.
In the amended ordinance, “smoking” is defined as inhaling or exhaling a lightened or heated tobacco product or smoking device that creates aerosol or vapor. This includes the following products: cigars cigarettes, pipes, hookahs, marijuana, electronic cigarettes, and vape pens. Smoking and use of electronic cigarettes is prohibited in any of the following enclosed places:
- Retail establishments
- Lodging establishments
- Common areas of multiple- unit residential properties
- Child care centers
- City buildings
- Educational facilities (including school-sponsored functions)
- Places of employment or public places
- Inpatient health care facilities
- Private clubs
- Correctional Facilities
- A sports arena
- A bus shelter
- A public conveyance
- Residence halls or dormitories owned or operated by a college or university
Franklin is one of multiple nearby cities to implement this ordinance with intent to create a healthier, safer community. For questions, contact the Franklin Health Department: 414-425-9101
Volition Franklin Youth participate in kindness week by offering candy canes to other students. We also posted locker signs that said “throw kindness like confetti”. The December meeting for the high school and the middle school was spent adding messages about kindness to the candy cane. Volition Franklin Youth wanted to spread the importance of kindness because kids who are bullied are more likely to resort to drugs and other substances. Data has shown that about 25% of students have felt bullied in the past. By being kind, we can prevent students from potentially misusing substances. Volition Youth handed out the candy canes during school to their peers and the Language Arts teachers were given bags of candy canes to hand out to their students they noticed being kind.
Volition held its first Volition Franklin Success Series at Franklin High School. Students had the opportunity to sign for the Success Series during their “Gold Block” time during school. Mr. Rivera, the school social worker, led a short lesson about kindness. Data has shown that about 25% of students have felt bullied in the past. By being kind, we can prevent students from potentially misusing substances. Participants wrote message on tags that were then tied to candy canes and distributed, to students who were noticed doing something kind for another person, to Language Arts teachers and through Volition Youth members that week. Messages included: “kindness is a privilege. Everyone deserves it.”, “use your platform to promote kindness and lift others up”, “kindness is inclusion”, “kindness should not discriminate”, and “kindness is a listening ear”. Volition Youth members distributing candy canes wore t-shirts that said “kindness is the new cool”.