There’s an age old saying that knowledge is power. When we equip ourselves with a better understanding of our environment and our impact on both ourselves and those around us, we gain the power to make more thoughtful and positive choices.
This October, high school aged students from various schools across Cape Cod participated in our annual “Kick It Event”. With the implementation of the Coaches Across Continents curriculum, participants actively tackled the decisions, dangers, repercussions, and choices which revolve around the use of substances.
What we learned is that the rhetoric our youth often hear revolving around the concept of “just say no” doesn’t really hit home for them anymore. Although that sounds like an easy solution, it’s not entirely practical for everyone. Through some really raw and honest discussion, participants discussed how the temptations of substances are often all around them. The unfortunate truth that they face these temptations not only in social settings but also in school, their homes, friend’s homes, etc. came to the surface. So, the conversation shifts. If this is a reality, how do we arm ourselves with the tools to help us navigate these situations?
Within the activities, we addressed the concept of using our resources and attempting to put ourselves in positive and safe environments. Participants talked about the people in their lives they love and trust who they could go to in order to seek advice or help when it comes to substances. These were people such as their parents, teachers, coaches, siblings, and their teammates. They shared with one another practical and realistic ways to remove yourself from a situation involving substances, how to make healthy choices, how to ask for help if you’ve made an unhealthy choice, how to talk to your friends and seek help for them, and, most importantly, they discussed how our individual choices go so much further than ourselves.
They talked about how many of them play various roles in their lives. They are sons and daughters, students, athletes, siblings, friends, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, members of their communities, etc. They acknowledged that when they make choices regarding substances they not only impact themselves both physically and mentally, but their decisions have the ability to change the course of the lives of many.
We finished the day with a closing discussion to remind them that this conversation should not end here. It should be carried into our homes and sit with us at the dinner table, it should exist within our schools, it should be with us when we’re hanging out with friends, and it should wedge itself between us on the benches at our games. Our power comes from our knowledge. The more we discuss, learn, and guide- the more tools we have to either make the right decision the first time or to know where to get the help and resources in the event that we need a second chance.
In events such as this, we are reminded of the strength, courage, and thoughtfulness of our youth. When we allow them to express the truth about their realities and the world around them, we learn more than we ever could imagine.
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