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Frank Ferry: The Drug Free Youth In Town program

Posted: December 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

When high school and junior high school kids across the Santa Clarita Valley returned to their campuses this year after summer break, they were introduced to a brand-new anti-drug campaign: DFYIT, which stands for Drug Free Youth In Town.

Santa Clarita is the first city in California to partner with the program, which, in just a few months, already has more than 700 members throughout the 13 junior and senior high schools in the Santa Clarita Valley.

With a proven track record in other communities, there are high hopes for the DFYIT program in Santa Clarita, with the goal of providing a positive peer network that supports healthy choices as Santa Clarita youth navigate their teen years.

DFYIT had a 99.6 percent success rate of keeping club participants drug free in Miami, Florida, when the city partnered with the program.

DFYIT is a free, school-based, voluntary, anti-drug club for junior and senior high school teens designed to promote a drug-free lifestyle. DFYIT 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 for teens. Some of the benefits to this approach are that it promotes a positive peer-based network and gives them ownership, creative control and responsibility for supporting healthy choices.

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.

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. 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.

One key component of the club is random drug testing. Drug tests are administered to club members throughout the year, and remaining drug-free is a mandatory part of club membership.

The goal is to have club members say “no” to drugs because they want to remain a member of the club. Random drug testing also give teens an easy way out if they find themselves in a situation where those around them offer them drugs.

Keeping our children safe and drug-free is an effort that needs to be community-wide. This year, the city of Santa Clarita partnered with Los Angeles County 5th District, the SCV Sheriff’s Station and the William S. Hart Union High School District to launch the brand new anti-drug diversion program.

This partnership has ensured that every student in junior and senior high school in the Santa Clarita Valley can benefit from DFYIT.

Parent involvement is also encouraged. DFYIT includes drug prevention classes and webinars to help parents stay on top of the latest trends and provide the tools needed 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 workshops.

In late 2012, a Youth Summit was held with the DFYIT members. At the summit, student members attended workshops that taught them how to bring the “drug-free” lifestyle message to their peers. These kinds of events are an important educational tool, which will continue to benefit Santa Clarita youth as DFYIT continues to grow.

As a parent and an educator, as well as serving as an elected official, my hope is that all Santa Clarita parents encourage their children to join DFYIT.

Far too many families have been destroyed by drug use in our community. The proven success for DFYIT club members in other communities is outstanding, and Santa Clarita has everything to gain by participating.

For more information, visit the program online at www.DFYITSCV.com.

Frank Ferry is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at fferry@santa-clarita.com.

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