By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — Students in grades 7 and 8 at the Galvin Middle School shun a lifestyle that includes drugs, alcohol and other harmful substances and negative practices, such as bullying.
These practices, say students at the Galvin, rob them and people in general of a healthy, fulfilling life.
Recently, the students created artwork through original pictures or videos that demonstrate their thoughts about smoking, drinking, drugging and bullying.
For their efforts, prizes were given to students whose artwork was deemed highly creative and ranged from an iPad mini for “most creative” to $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards. Visa gift cards were also given, ranging from $25 to $50. The winning photos will be turned into posters and used by the Galvin in upcoming programs such as anti-bullying and substance abuse prevention.
The students’ efforts are all part of a national youth anti-drug campaign sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Police titled Above the Influence. The program transitioned away from federal oversight, as of March 2014, and is now a program of the not-for-profit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
According to the Above the Influence website, every teen’s life is filled with pressure, some good, some bad. It is the organization’s goal to help teens stand up to negative pressures or influences. The more aware they are of the negative influences surrounding them, the better prepared they will be to stare them down, including pressure to use drugs and alcohol.
The campaign was, and continues to be, inspired by what teens have said about their lives and how they deal with the influences that shape their decisions.
Participation in the program has been adopted by Wakefield’s WAKE-UP Youth Action Team leaders.
The response for the creation of artwork was more than Catherine Dhingra, coordinator of the Wakefield Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, could have hoped for. Dhingra works alongside Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith and the Board of Health and all three are waging a valiant battle to halt substance abuse and other negative behaviors in the community.
Over a two-week period, 50 photos and videos created by Galvin students were uploaded to Instagram or e-mailed, Dhingra said.
“We were all so impressed with the creativity and quality of the photos, we had a hard time judging,” said Dhingra.
Vice Principal of the Galvin Middle School Andrew Tetrault said, “We were impressed with the student response to the Above the Influence campaign. The Galvin Middle School students continue to blow us away with their creativity, their drive to do the right thing and their insight and thoughtfulness toward one another. Our community should really be proud of the students and hard work they put in. Not a day goes by at the Galvin that we educators don’t count our lucky stars for these kids.”