Our Youth Advisory Board (YAB) recently inspired their peers with a marijuana awareness campaign. The YAB is a group of high school students from Gwinnett County who come together to learn leadership skills, provide input on various aspects of GUIDE programming and conduct substance abuse prevention projects. Members are committed to positively impacting the community, as well as making responsible and healthy personal choices.
This year, the YAB was thrilled to receive the Disney Friends for Change Grant from Youth Service America to conduct a marijuana awareness campaign. The campaign took place around Global Youth Service Day, which is an annual event that focuses on youth creating change in their communities through service.
Reducing and preventing marijuana use is important to our YAB members because they know that it can have serious effects on the brain and body. Also, with the media glamorizing the use of marijuana, many youth are not aware of the harmful effects that marijuana can have. According to the 2014 Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services Youth Health Survey, 15% of Gwinnett high school students used marijuana in the past 30 days, and only 54% believed that marijuana is harmful. With this low perception of harm, there is a higher chance that youth will try marijuana and participate in other risky behaviors because of this decision.
As such, YAB members began their “Marijuana… It’s more harmful than you think” campaign on April 17 to educate their peers and the community about the dangers of marijuana use and to also encourage students to not skip school on April 20 to smoke marijuana.
The campaign took place at three high schools in Gwinnett County, where 15 YAB members and other youth volunteers shared marijuana statistics with students and handed out over 600 campaign materials. To continue this campaign the following week, GUIDE shared information about the dangers of marijuana use on our blog and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. More than 100 students signed a pledge indicating that they would not skip school on April 20 to smoke marijuana, and 9,342 people saw these messages during the in-school campaigns and on social media.
Our YAB members had a rewarding experience creating and participating in the campaign; they were able to practice important skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, public speaking and leadership. GUIDE Staff and YAB members are all looking forward to expanding the campaign throughout 2015 and 2016 to impact more people in the community.
As a result of this campaign, more youth and adults became aware of the dangers of marijuana and pledged to make positive decisions for their health.
Check out this video to hear from YAB members about their experience and the impact they made!