By Allison Pari
Hundreds of junior high and high school students came out to learn about the dangers of drugs and participate in teambuilding activities at the Drug Free Youth in Town Summit, Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Santa Clarita Valley Activities Center.
DFYiT is school-based, peer-led program that supports drug-free clubs on junior high and high school campuses.
Participants agree to be leaders among their peers and submit to random drug tests to prove that they are committed to a sober lifestyle. The Activities Center was filled with youth and teens wearing shirts that said, “Drug free, and I’m willing to prove it.”
The purpose of today’s summit was to give kids a flavor of what it means to be a DFYiT member. Dana Abel, DFYiT program specialist, said she hoped the activities would help teach them how to work with friends and classmates against peer pressure and negative influences.
After comments from the mayor and a video presentation, the students were broken into groups for games like The Human Knot and The Magic Carpet, which emphasized the need to work together to overcome a crisis. In The Human Knot several students linked hands in random order and had to untangle themselves. The Magic Carpet game required a group of students to stand on a plastic tarp and flip the tarp over completely without touching the floor.
West Ranch High School teacher Terri Sage said that the students had some remarkable insights during the discussion afterward. “Some said that, like the magic carpet, you can flip your life around. It’s going to be hard. There’s lots of obstacles,” Sage said, describing issues the students brought up.
“‘If I’m using drugs right now and I want to stop, it’s going to be really, really hard for me, but it can be done,’” Sage said, quoting the students.
Valencia High School teacher Joni Stimon, who led the Human Knot game also noted how well her students understood the issues. “Most groups at some point said, ‘Can we start over?’ And they realized sometimes in your life you get entangled, and you can’t find a way out of it. And so, by dropping and starting over, they thought it was an
interesting analogy — whether it’s with a group of friends or behavior.”
Sage said she hopes DFYiT will be better able to combat drugs in the Santa Clarita Valley than other programs have in the past.
“It’s another approach, and I think it’s really good,” Sage said. “They’re utilizing the peers … instead of just leaving it to the city and the Sheriff’s Department.”
“These are leaders; these are great kids,” she said. “These are kids that can help other kids. They’re willing to stand up. These aren’t the kids that are afraid to speak up. These are the kids that are willing to speak up for maybe something that’s no so popular.”
To learn more about DFYiT in SCV, visit their website www.dfyitscv.com.