Roger L Putnam Vocational Technical Academy has been actively involved with Herren Project since 2013. Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, Putnam’s Herren Project Club was started by three students and Bill Scott (advisor, dean of students, football, and lacrosse coach). In that year, Mr. Scott brought students to hear Chris Herren speak — an event that inspired three of those students to form a Herren Project Club within their school. The students then put together a PowerPoint presentation about Herren Project with highlights of Chris speaking from a TEDx Talk video. They used social media and school announcements to invite people to the presentation. The initial presentation was a success and the club founders followed with a screening for 100 students to showcase a video they produced for a Herren Project Clubs video competition.
In the first year, the twenty active members focused on creating activities to spread awareness on substance use disorder. One part of their initial outreach effort that has continued annually, is having a club booth at freshman orientation where they showcase the program. This allows freshman to get involved with Herren Project Clubs at the start of each new school year.
Students in the club wear Herren Project Club gear to help spread awareness and create interest. A variety of Herren Project Club gear is available to purchase for all club members in the online shop including shirts, hats, accessories, and more. A large portion of support and outreach for the club comes from the school’s athletic department. Every year during awareness week, the sports teams wear purple warm-ups and anyone wearing purple in attendance gets into the event for free. The club has members on the football, track, basketball teams and more! Athlete engagement in the Herren Project Club has been a highlight at Putnam as it increases the club’s appeal to a more diverse audience within the school.
The Herren Project Club at Putnam has two to three student coordinators that are appointed to lead the club by Mr. Scott. The school then sends their club coordinators to leadership workshops. The club meets during lunchtime and normal school hours, while the events are held after school. They meet once a month unless they are planning an event, in which subcommittees are formed and meet more often. As a vocational school, Putnam’s unique structure has been utilized extensively, as they weave the Herren Project Club into their different vocational shops. With the club’s twelve teachers/advisors representing the different vocational shops, each shop provides students the opportunity to be involved with the Herren Project Club. The metal shop makes banners for the club, the graphics shop designs the flyers and posters, the retail shop sells Herren Project Clubs gear, the culinary shop bakes purple cupcakes for events, the music shop puts on shows during awareness week, and the multimedia shop creates videos. There are many other shops involved and each brings a unique skill to the club. In addition to the twelve teachers/advisors representing the different vocational shops, there are around twenty-five core student members, 100 members that get involved occasionally, and 500+ students that wear Herren Project shirts during awareness week.
Putnam utilizes every part of their school to throw fun events attended by hundreds of students. Utilizing vocational shops at the school empowers different students with different interests to take a leadership role, learn about substance use disorder and how to make healthy choices. Though events change each year, Putnam tries to keep some events consistent to build recognition, tradition and excitement. Putnam is also highly involved in their community through community service. They go to other schools, read to kids, give presentations about being yourself, and reach out to the local community to bring in positive role models as guest speakers.
To support their club, Putnam organizes various fundraisers throughout the school year, including a Herren Project Club purple pep rally attended by hundreds of students. Additionally, the members sell snack bar items such as, pizza, cupcakes, cookies, and sell raffles tickets, purple ribbons, and buttons. There is a staff vs. student basketball game and a jamboree basketball game vs. other schools. They also hold a school talent show and a car wash.
The members at Putnam have used their Herren Project Club to become leaders in their community and make a difference in the lives of their peers. They create videos, flyers and events to focus on substance use disorder awareness education, distracted driving initiatives, and other activities around making healthy choices. Multiple Putnam students have been recognized by Herren Project through the Herren Project scholarship program for the amazing work they are doing in their school and community.
If you are interested in starting a Herren Project Club in your school, register today at https://herrenproject.org/register-hp-clubs/. You will receive a Herren Project Clubs digital toolkit on “How to Start and Grow Your Club” and exclusive access to our inspirational posters. Together we can empower our youth to make healthy choices and celebrate life substance-free! Please contact, firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.