5 minutes reading time (1033 words)

SADD Club Leads Peers Towards Better Paths

By Jeanne Neuwirth, LCSW Clinician and SADD Club Advisor

School closings are definitely a challenge but they do give us a chance to reflect on the significant work our dedicated SADD Club students have done throughout this school year to lead peers towards better choices. SADD stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions, it is a national organization with roots in the alcohol abuse prevention efforts of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), but Pathway's SADD Club at Carteret High School has expanded the positive influence of this club into many areas of student life. Here is a recap of the school year so far:

Welcoming Committee

The day before school began in September, a dozen SADD members used sidewalk chalk to decorate the entrance to CHS with welcoming and inspirational messages of support and positivity. Freshman departing after orientation saw the drawings underway and many joined in. This was the perfect way to kick off the school year on the right note!

Lifting Students UP

One of the issues SADD club is most dedicated to is suicide prevention. In early September, a group of student artists began working on a banner based on images from the movie "UP" entitled, "Words to Lift You UP." The completed banner was hung in the cafeteria in honor of Suicide Prevention Month, and throughout lunch periods students were invited to write uplifting words in paper balloons posted on the banner. More than 200 CHS students offered words of encouragement! SADD members also distributed hundreds of bracelets imprinted with the phrase "U R IRREPLACEABLE" with the suicide hotline embossed inside. A bulletin board displayed resources for help and warning signs of someone who may be at risk.

Recognizing the holidays can be difficult for many people, SADD Club members worked throughout all lunch periods in mid-December to educate students about the 2nd Floor Youth Helpline (an anonymous hotline for youth at 888-222-2228) in an effort to ensure students had an avenue of support when home over the long break. As a result, 100 students saved this hotline number in their phone contacts, and another 80 students placed stickers displaying the hotline on the backs of their student IDs. SADD students also hung the 2nd Floor Helpline posters in bathrooms throughout the school.

Working to Prevent Substance Use

Substance abuse prevention is at the heart of SADD's mission, and the students direct a great deal of energy to this. For Red Ribbon Week in October, nearly two dozen SADD members stood at the entrance to CHS and invited students to choose to be drug free. Nearly 1,000 students chose to wear and display the DRUG FREE sticker throughout the day. About 200 of those stopped by Pathways for Red Ribbon "Drug Free" merchandise including water bottles, lanyards, drawstring bags, and lollipops.

For Knockout Opioid Abuse Day, SADD Club members hung 200 doorknob flyers throughout the school, educating students and staff about the dangers of opioid abuse.

For November's Great American Smokeout, SADD members ran a table in the cafeteria throughout lunch periods inviting peers to spin a wheel and answer quiz questions about smoking, vaping, and substance abuse. More than 500 students pledged to be Smoke Free, and their pledges were displayed to encourage all students to be Smoke and Vape Free. Thank you to Wellspring Center for Prevention staff members, who provided support and guidance for this event.

Promoting Driving Without Distraction

A group of nine upperclassmen SADD Leaders were trained to teach Sophomores about the dangers of distracted driving. These students go into every Driver Theory Class to lead a lesson using an interactive driving mat and wheel to challenge students to note the difference between driving while focused vs driving while distracted. SADD students give each student driver a bracelet reminding them to "Focus, Drive and Stay Alive." These SADD leaders have given up their own class time to teach peers the life-saving message to drive without distraction. So far this year, they have discussed the importance of focused driving to 300 Driver Theory students!

Setting Goals

To kick off the New Year in January, several student artists worked diligently over 3 weeks to create a beautiful banner entitled "A Start of Something New." Throughout lunch periods, students in the cafeteria shared their positive goals for 2020. Many students shared mental health goals such as, "work on my anger," "socialize more," "have less drama," and "finally love myself." Several wrote concrete goals, such as "get a job." This activity prompted conversations about the importance of mental health and goal setting, to set the right tone for the New Year.

Educating Peers About Healthy Relationships

Did you know February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month? For several years now, SADD has conducted a Valentine's Day rose sale, from which the profits have been donated to an organization benefitting domestic violence survivors. This year, students worked to sell about 350 roses, and SADD was proud to donate $150 to Women Aware! SADD leaders also ran a table activity where CHS students spun a colorful wheel and answered quiz questions about healthy vs unhealthy relationships. These questions raised interesting discussions about the qualities of healthy relationships. For example, students are often surprised to learn that going through someone else's phone to spy on their messages is an unhealthy behavior in a relationship.

Radiating Respect and Kindness

Beyond efforts to educate students and steer them away from dangerous choices, SADD Club also strives to raise positivity in the school. For Week of Respect, SADD wrote 50 messages of respect that were posted throughout the hallways and stairwells. In addition, compliments and words of encouragement were hung throughout the school in a "tear off" style, and 200 compliment slips were shared by students with one another, brightening everyone's day!

Looking Forward

SADD Club will spring back in action when school reopens! Follow Pathways on Instagram @Pathwayssbys where you can see all the work SADD Club members do, as well as all of Pathways Clubs and activities.

#safehealthyconnected #SADDCHS #mentalhealth #afsp #suicideprevention #tdvam2020 #1thing #loveisrespect #womenaware

@Pathwayssbys @newjerseydcf @saddnation @carteretschools @womenaware @2ndfloorhelpline @wellspringcenterforprevention

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