STAND making impact

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Members of the Newton High School STAND group were able to make their first visit to Chisholm Middle School in a year this week.

For the first time in more than a year, members of the Newton High School STAND team were able to visit Chisholm Middle School — and when the team visited they wasted no time in showing why they were there. 

Their presentation to younger students started with a question — one that put the STAND flag in the sand, so to speak. 

“How many of you think that the majority of high schoolers are drinking alcohol?”

Seven Newton High School STAND students recently took over the eighth grade Careers and Spanish classrooms. That question opened conversation between members of Mirror’s high school STAND program and 181 eighth grade students.

“Overall, our entire team had a great time," said Joseph Winfield, the STAND Coordinator. "It was not only fun to engage with younger students, but it was also important that we did it in a way that would be meaningful and help build a relationship with those students.”

STAND is a regional prevention program of Mirror in six different schools in the area/. The group goal is to identify  high school leaders who will stand up for positive and healthy behaviors for themselves, and their peers.

These young leaders create service projects, promote mental health, offer youth substance use education programs, and create relational partnerships with the middle schools in their community.

The Tik-Tok-themed presentation at Chisholm was part of the middle school partnership and the culmination of months of work. Members from each team share the truth about youth drug use with those younger than them – the truth that despite the way it may feel sometimes, substance use is not the norm. Student statistics from the Kansas Communities That Care survey are shared with the younger students in an effort to show  the majority of youth are choosing not to drink alcohol.

Several STAND leaders noticed the reactions of the younger youth who realized that they are in the majority by not drinking.

“It was interesting to see how the kids reacted to the statistics. Many of them were super surprised,” said Gracie Hendrickson, sophomore. “If you feel like your friends are pressuring you to make negative decisions like drinking alcohol, you can tell them no. It’s okay to do that. There are plenty of kids making healthy decisions, so don’t let anybody tell you ‘everyone’s doing it,’ because it’s just not true.”

Walking them through the cons of underage alcohol use, STAND members told  middle schoolers how to evaluate their decisions and the possible outcomes.

Each student left with a creative, gen-Z wheel of refusal skills to help them in saying no to offers of drugs or alcohol. Skills like “Nah, bruh I don’t do that” and “Live ya best life- suggest something more positive” break down the difficult task of refusing alcohol from your peers and give options to make a more positive decision.

The second half of the presentation focused on the topic of mental health. Older students shared how they boost their own mental health through everyday activities.

Seven members of the NHS STAND group were able to take over classrooms at Chisholm Middle School this week, meeting more than 180 eighth graders for substance abuse prevention education.