Paramus, NJ) Oct 21, 2013 – More than 100 middle school students from Glen Rock, Ridgewood and Midland Park recently attended an Eighth Grade Leadership Conference at Ramapo College. The conference, hosted by The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources, a program of Children’s Aid and Family Services, and sponsored by the Yaw Paw Camp Association Of Ridgewood New Jersey, focused on drug and alcohol prevention, coping with peer pressure and anti-bullying.
High school students from Midland Park and Ridgewood helped plan the conference and served as mentors to the middle school students. They made a video about bullying that featured a high school girl being “slushied” by other teens; this is when bullies throw slushies or iced drinks at their victims. They made two versions of the video, with one featuring a bystander that didn’t get involved and the second version showing a bystander helping the victim. “There’s a lot of talk about bullying in elementary school, but it still happens in middle and high school,” says Caitlin Shannon, a student at Midland Park High School. “We wanted to show that if you see bullying happen, you should get involved; talk to the bully and report what happened to an adult.”
|Caitlin is also part of Midland Park High School’s Drug and Alcohol Prevention, which holds fun events for 7th – 12th grade students, such as movie, ice cream and trivia nights, as an alternative to parties. “We want teenagers to know you can be popular, drug-free, successful and happy,” says Caitlin.
Cameron Hoo of Ridgewood High School helped lead a presentation on drug and alcohol prevention. “We want to empower middle school-aged kids to make the right decisions,” says Cameron. “Taking drugs is a time waster. There are so many natural highs, such as making someone’s day better, reading a good book, playing a sport, going to the theater and listening to music. We want to create lasting change in the community and let these kids know they have the power to take positive action.”
The high school students worked most of the summer to prepare for the conference, with the guidance of Jamie England, a Prevention Specialist with The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources. “I’m proud of the high school students and their commitment to mentoring the younger students,” says Jamie. “They are passionate about making the community better. We want the 8th grade students to be role models to the rest of the school and bring the important messages they learned to their peers.”
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