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UPDATED: DFYiT hosts drug-free summit

Students called on to flip peer pressure to work in favor of drug deterrence

Posted: October 24, 2012 10:50 a.m.
Updated: October 24, 2012 10:50 a.m.

A group of high school students joins hands to execute a "human knot" exercise during team-building activities at the DFYiT student summit Wednesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson

Hundreds of middle and high school students stood, stomped and cheered Wednesday at the Santa Clarita Activities Center in defiance of drug and alcohol use.

The Drug Free Youth in Town program, dubbed DFYiT and pronounced “defy-it,” held the four-hour student summit to encourage attendees to not only continue their own participation in the program, but also to encourage their fellow students to join.

The William S. Hart Union High School district launched the DFYiT program this school year as a partnership with the city of Santa Clarita, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Fifth Supervisorial District.

The program emphasizes student-led and peer network activities to discourage drug and alcohol use.

Kathy Hunter, the director of student services with the Hart district, said she was highly optimistic about the program’s effectiveness because it allows students to hold each other accountable for their decisions.

“We want something that’s not just a curriculum,” Hunter said. “We want it to be active. We want these kids to be living it.”

Mayor Frank Ferry talked about his own experiences as a student seeing other students smoking or drinking and thinking that was the cool or typical thing to do. But, he said, he later learned that his experience was fairly typical.

“In this room, we are the supermajority. We are the norm,” Ferry told the assembled students. “You guys are the best and brightest in the Santa Clarita Valley when it comes to our youth.”

Ferry later told the high school group that it was important to flip the script on peer pressure in schools.

“Our job is to redefine what peer pressure is and celebrate that you’re all making good choices,” Ferry said.

The city, school districts and county officials have ramped up their drug-deterrence efforts in light of the proliferation of heroin use among Santa Clarita Valley young people. DFYiT is part of that effort.




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