By Julian Melton
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
With a mandate from the federal government and an appointment from President Obama himself, local community leaders Wanda and Earl Boone of Durham TRY are helping high school students avoid BADD influences.
Wanda Boone, who has been active in the community for decades, was appointed the North Carolina representative for President Obama’s Faith and Community at the 2010 Community Leader and Interfaith Partnership Summit in Washington, D.C. This charges her with addressing mental health and substance abuse issues in the community.
Through the Boone’s organization, Durham TRY (Together for Resilient Youth), the Bands against Destructive Decisions (BADD!) youth coalition is visiting local schools.
“When young people can be educated about what substance abuse really is, they are able to make decisions toward not using and influence their peers not to use,” said Boone.
The ten forty-five minute lessons employ established models of decision making and research on the message interpretation process to promote positive attitudes toward abstaining from alcohol and tobacco use.
The 2010 Monitoring the Future study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that about eight percent of 8th graders, 17 percent of 10th graders, and 21 percent of 12th graders had smoked marijuana in the month prior to the study.
The most recent BADD! Meeting took place at Southern High School on Sat., Oct. 8 at noon.
Sporting red wrist bands that read “better things to do than drugs”, thirty-one students from various schools gathered and shared views on drug use and underage drinking.
“BADD allows us to have fun and learn why not to do drugs and drink alcohol,” said Gabrielle McCardle, a Cary Academy student.
After Wanda Boone presented on the harm caused by smoking and drinking and media influences of drinking and smoking that are directed towards youth, she led a discussion on health in the community, the school, and the home. They also discussed ways to inspire other teenagers to avoid negative influences.
“Being in BADD! teaches us skills on how to be good leaders,” said Cece Marzinsky, a student at East Chapel Hill High School.
Some students also made formal presentations to their peers while others performed dance presentations and poetry readings.
“BADD! is actually trying to help the youth and not just talk about helping them,” said Sarah Hamon, a Cary Academy student.
The meeting also included guest speakers Monique Steel of the Leading to Change organization and Leon Frazier, Jr. of the A.B.A. expansion basketball team the Carolina Jaguars.
Steel led the students through leadership and team building activities. “The goal for the training activities is to talk about and influence a positive mindset,” said Steel.
“I’m from Durham and I graduated from Southern,” said Frazier. “It’s important that there is someone positive who reaches out to the youth. The Carolina Jaguars is all about being involved and being positive influences for the youth.”
BADD! is only one of four components of Durham TRY. The first two are parental support and the adult coalition that meet at Golden Belt every second Wednesday of the month at 10:30 a.m.
The BADD! coalition meets every third Saturday at BrightLeaf Square.
The fourth component, youth programming, is comprised of two media literacy programs for elementary and middle school students: Media Detective and Media Ready.
Three Durham Public Schools elementary schools including Eastway Elementary and four middle schools participate in the youth programs.
Wanda Boone, a non-practicing RN, has worked in clinical research for years and is a trainer on several evidence-based models of youth training. She is certified by the Model Approach to Parenting Program through the Department of Social Services to be a therapeutic foster parent.
In the 1980s, she and her husband founded At His Feet Ministries. In 2003, they founded Durham TRY whose mission is to prevent substance abuse among youth and adults by reducing community risk factors through advocacy, education, policy change, mobilization and action.
“In the community, the effect of drugs and alcohol has been devastating on young people, grown people, even the elderly – everyone is affected by substances in some way,” said Earl Boone. “Our focus is prevention. We want to stop young people from going down the path of substance abuse so they don’t have to worry about rehab and getting back into society. If we can stop them from going down that path, the battle is already won.”
To learn more about substance abuse among teenagers visit www.teens.drugabuse.gov/facts