SCHOLARSHIP AWARD: $1,000
Portsmouth High School – Portsmouth, RI
Freshman year of high school was filled with amazing experiences for me. I had great success in running, so my coach recommended that I attend the Life of an Athlete conference with a prevention-related club at Portsmouth High School called Patriots Committed. Here, other leadership groups from across the country shared ideas about how they prevent substance abuse in their communities. I also learned a great deal of information about how to eat healthy as an athlete and how to recover. At this conference I realized that if I want to be the best in a sport, that I have to be dedicated. Consequently, my sophomore year, I joined Patriots Committed. We did an outreach to the Wilbur & McMahon School and taught them about healthy living, did a presentation to the high school about stress during before midterms, put posters around the school about drug abuse and perhaps my favorite event, THP Project Purple Dodgeball.
Dodgeball was not just one day, but it was a whole week of THP Project Purple related events. As a club, we decorated the lobby with “I am” papers that students filled out and all around the school there was purple. At our dodgeball event we read an excerpt about Chris Herren’s life and what being purple means. Many teams from the high school, a team from each school in Portsmouth and a police/fire team competed in the tournament to come together endorse Herren Project and Chris Herren’s mission.
Sadly, in my junior year of high school, participation in Patriots Committed dwindled dramatically, but I was so passionate in the area of healthy living and prevention at this point that I did not want to let this club go. Thanks to the assistant principal, she recommended a couple of our Patriots Committed members to attend a leadership conference called Youth to Youth at Bryant college in the summer before junior year. It turned out to be the best experience of my year. Everybody at the conference was exceptionally positive minded. At the conference, I attended workshops about stress, leadership, accepting people as who they are and more.
Luckily, I got to go the following summer and this is where I really became inspired. Patriots Committed was dying, and I came up with the idea, along with support from classmates, to rename the club Youth to Youth Portsmouth and embody the qualities of wellness, positivity and inclusion, instead of having a strict drug/alcohol free stigma. Over the summer, I met with the club and we shared our ideas with our advisors of the re-modeling. We then took our new club to freshmen orientation where we gained interest. We started off the year with a couple of meetings and then put on a capture the flag tournament in which the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition sponsored. We got shirts, came up with a mission, and are now planning Herren Project Dodgeball and an outreach to Portsmouth Middle School with our club of more than twice the size of last year. Kids in our club and kids that attend our events have various backgrounds whether they have dealt with substance abuse in any way or not, but our main goal is to make sure people are being the best version of themselves.