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Students hoping to teach others to make good choices

We Decide students Jordyn Bynum, Ben Kading, Abby Fischer, Zach Jewison and Sarah Schultz spoke last week at Park Rapids Area High School's freshman orientation. The students are encouraging others to make good decisions. We Decide grew from the student organization Students Against Destructive Decisions. It is part of the Hubbard In Prevention alcohol prevention grant that is being used to reduce underage drinking in Hubbard County. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Students in Hubbard County are launching a new initiative this school year to encourage good choices.

We Decide, which evolved from Students Against Destructive Decisions, is a group that has grown from the Hubbard In Prevention (HIP) alcohol prevention initiative.

This summer, several students from Park Rapids, Nevis and Laporte attended a National Youth Leadership Initiative in Nashville, Tenn., to attend workshops and work with other youth across the country to talk about underage drinking and ways to prevent it in their communities.

"It was all about starting with the big picture and asking the big questions such as, 'Why is there underage drinking?'" said Park Rapids senior Calvin Bateman, who attended the Nashville conference. "We decided the reason is it's easy to get because parents are providing for kids."

He and other members of We Decide will be working on providing information to parents about underage drinking.

"Some parents might be unaware their children are accessing alcohol from their homes," Bateman said.

A possible initiative might be to provide liquor cabinet locks for parents, he said.

"It was interesting meeting kids from all over the country and others from Minnesota," Bateman said.

Other communities are dealing with similar issues.

"We didn't just learn about one way to approach things but there are a lot of things that could be applied to different situations," Bateman said.

Jordyn Bynum, another senior in Park Rapids, also attended the national conference and said it was a fun experience for her.

"I first joined SADD my sophomore year when I heard about it through Brenda Johnson," she said. "It ended up being the best thing ever."

She met a lot of other students at the conference and got some great ideas.

"A lot of people were interested in doing the same things that we're doing," Bynum said.

The goal of the We Decide group isn't to push anything on someone, she emphasized.

"It's about teaching others to be more confident and be leaders," she said.

Bynum also likes the fact that We Decide is a student-led initiative and teachers are there just for guidance.

Students at the conference learned the five steps of the Strategic Prevention Framework, which includes assessment, capacity, planning, implementation and evaluation. They will continue working on these steps to help Hubbard County become supportive of alcohol-free opportunities for youth.

We Decide has been busy this summer presenting to Hubbard In Prevention and at freshman orientation.

Sarah Schultz, a member of We Decide, encouraged freshmen to join the organization.

"It's all about making good choices," she said.

The group gets together for fun activities and also does some work. Last week, students were calling every Hubbard County business that sells alcohol to see if there was interest in further training for servers.

The Students Against Destructive Decisions might continue as a separate organization from We Decide but that will be figured out as the school year progresses.

We Decide students will be active at local events and is working with Hubbard in Prevention on an upcoming advertising campaign.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561