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Marsha McLean: DFYiT: Drug-Free Youth in Town coming

Posted: August 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

Along with the new school year, there is a new and promising chapter in the fight to keep our kids drug free. The city of Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County 5th District, the Sheriff’s Department and William S. Hart Union High School District have come together to bring a new anti-drug prevention and education program to Santa Clarita.

DFYiT (Drug Free Youth in Town) is a free, school-based, voluntary anti-drug club for high school teens.

DFYiT is a program that goes far beyond adults preaching the same “don’t do drugs” message to kids, which often falls on deaf ears. DFYiT is different in that it is a club run by the teens themselves.

This peer-based club, run by teens for teens, gives the participants ownership, creative control and responsibility. The goal is to provide a positive peer network that supports healthy choices and a drug-free lifestyle.

In the DFYiT program, school club advisers and city staff work with teen leaders (club officers) on local high school and junior high school campuses to develop, coordinate and supervise on-campus events, community service projects and educational workshops that promote a drug-free lifestyle.

On campus, club meetings are held regularly to discuss drug-related and other issues that may lead to drug use or are a result of drug use, such as anxiety, violence, and depression, to name a few.

The DFYiT clubs are great ways for kids to make friends, have fun and, best of all, have positive peer experiences without the pressure to try drugs.  

I’m very proud that Santa Clarita is the first community in California to partner with the DFYiT program. We looked long and hard for programs that have had a proven success rate, and we found DFYiT.

The program had tremendous success in Miami, so instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we researched its program. What we found was a 99.6 percent success rate and participants who were very proud of their clubs.

Because of the positive social status of the clubs, kids want to be a part of something many of them feel is very special.

A key component of the club is random drug testing. Drug tests are administered to club members throughout the year.

To remain in the club, participants must remain drug free. Drug testing is a very valuable tool for teens to have because it automatically gives them an excuse to not do drugs.

If they’re in a situation with peers where some of them might be doing drugs, all they have to say is, “Can’t do it. I get drug tested.” Being able to say this takes away all the peer pressure.

DFYiT has an educational component to it, but for the members it’s more about having fun. There are exclusive social events and activities. Teens can meet new friends and develop leadership skills, critical thinking skills, and resiliency that serve as a strong foundation for living and have a lifelong impact.

Parent involvement is also encouraged. DFYiT includes drug prevention classes and webinars to ensure parents stay on top of the latest trends and have the tools they need to reduce the chances their children will use alcohol and drugs.

Parents of club members can also volunteer at events, solicit sponsors and participate in club events and workshops.

DFYiT is already being set up on campuses in Santa Clarita, and sign-ups will continue through Sept. 7. DFYiT will be in all 13 junior and senior high school campuses in Santa Clarita Valley.

Kickoff events feature a DJ, prizes, program information and more. Teens are encouraged to sign up during their school’s kickoff, but they will also have a chance to join at anytime by speaking with the school club adviser or program specialist on campus.

For more information, visit www.DFYiTSCV.com.

Marsha McLean is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at mmclean@santa-clarita.com.

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