Change Projects can be anything from a rally to an art exhibit to a contest—the students’ imagination is the only limit (aside from budget, of course). The Liaisons act as a point of contact between the Youth Ambassadors and Mentor Foundation USA, and their support and encouragement keeps the Youth Ambassadors on track from concept to implementation of their particular Project. Liaisons track the budget for the Youth Ambassadors activity by distributing funds and submitting reports to Mentor Foundation USA and keep their students on schedule. The projects would not be as successful without their guidance and input and we salute them. It may be surprising, but the Liaisons get something in return from their experience as well.. Below, the liaisons from Ichabod Crane Central High School and Germantown Central High School share their thoughts on the Youth Ambassador program and what their involvement has meant to them.
The Youth Ambassador Program has opened up a new avenue for our students at Ichabod Crane High School to advocate for drug and substance abuse prevention. This new approach has ignited enthusiasm and eagerness in our ambassadors. We believe the design of this program will help reach and inspire more students than the traditional methods have. Not only is the information coming directly from their friends, classmates and peers, it is often being delivered in a way that is familiar to this generation - through social media and other forms of technology.Maureeen Sgambelluri, Youth Ambassador Liaison, Ichabod Crane Central High School
The program at Ichabod Crane is currently in the final phase of planning and implementing their 'Change Project'. Over a span of three days, the ambassadors will lead various activities to advocate for drug and substance abuse prevention. This includes speaking to the entire student body about shattering the myths of drug and substance abuse, unveiling a permanent fixture in the school known as the “Dream Wall”, educating all students on the physical effects drug abuse can have on the body, holding a school wide trivia contest, and offering a photo booth during lunches where students are able to take selfies to promote how they are #livingtheexample.
As the two adult liaisons here in Germantown Central School District for STM (Shattering the Myths) and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) we teamed the two clubs together and this has proven to be a strong marriage and beneficial for all students involved. The STM program has provided us a concrete drug awareness foundation as well as supportive reinforcements focused on high school students. The program trains and supports our schools STM youth ambassadors to reach out to one another for peer to peer mentoring. As you may be aware the drug epidemic, in particular heroin, across the nation is at an all-time high…our students have chosen to be proactive instead of reactive. STM brought two local young adults that are in recovery to speak to our HS students. This was an eye opener for us (liaisons) as the presenters were from local school districts and spoke openly about their high school years, how it all started and what they could have done differently. They shared that they felt they may have walked a different path if they had peer support, understanding and direction. The students involved in SADD/STM are doing a variety of outreach projects, including but not limited to, a digital photography art exhibit where students could vote for their favorite artwork, individual personal drug awareness posters and poetry related to how the prevalence of drugs have affected them (or someone close to them). Possible upcoming peer outreach projects may include a spring seat belt check for HS drivers as they arrive at school in the morning and a proposed accident simulation, hopefully right before prom.
I believe the Mentor Foundation’s goal is to offer this program next year to all of the Columbia County schools and eventually throughout NY State. I personally have reached out and provided the Mentor Foundation information to another local school’s SADD advisors as we feel it is a valuable addition to our school. I hope I (we) have been able to communicate how valuable STM through the Mentor Foundation has been to Germantown HS this year.Karyn Schassler and Julann Peters Youth Ambassador Liaison, Germantown Central High School