These kids are keenly aware of the epidemic swirling around them.
Catherine Jones was marching with her high school band when the group witnessed the scene of a drug overdose in Manchester. Quincy Roy has a family member who has suffered from a substance use disorder. Every kid has a story.
Members of the Makin’ It Happen Coalition for Resilient Youth see drugs and alcohol as a clear and present danger to their generation. And they have put their shoulders back and found their voices and are deflecting that danger with a potent weapon: the optimism of the young.
More than 70 young people from eight schools have been trained on over-the-counter medication safety, and now train younger children. When they heard the president was coming to town, they dropped everything on a weekend to craft a message and figure out how to get him to hear it. Their example convinced leaders of a national Drug Enforcement Administration program to shift focus to youth and prevention. They have become accustomed to television cameras. They are readying for a sit-down with the governor. They are thrilled when other kids want to join the work.
Quincy’s family member is in recovery and working again, buoyed by a 14-year-old’s efforts.
“We’re making kind of like a movement as youth,” Quincy says. Catherine adds: “It’s going to carry with us the rest of our lives.”
Let the kids lead, and amazing things will happen.