First photo, from left: Prevention Club member Emmanuel Cueto, Prevention/Intervention Specialist Susan Peng-Cowan, club members Quintin Gaither and Laura Sinclair, Prevention Club President Maria Echevarria, club member Mina Kato and Prevention Coalition Coordinator Megan Streeter at the Spring Youth Forum

Prevention Club takes proactive approach to substance issues

“It’s legal here, so there’s easier access,” said Maria Echevarria, a junior at Hudson’s Bay High School.

The “it” is marijuana, legal in Washington state but not for anyone under the age of 21. A group of Bay students called the Prevention Club foresees the effects on their peers who illegally use the substance: “It could affect their future. Instead of going to school, they could get involved with marijuana to relieve their stress,” said freshman Emmanuel Cueto.

Added Echevarria, club president, “There isn’t as much marijuana prevention. We saw the need.”

She and her fellow club members acted to fill the gap. The 10-member club helped PREVENT! The Substance Abuse Coalition of Clark County to create Cannabis Conversations: Friend2Friend, drawing on research that demonstrates the power of peer-to-peer connection to prevent drug use. The toolkit contains resources that empower teens, extroverts and introverts alike, to intervene on behalf of kids who use marijuana.

Other Bay students have reaped the rewards of the club’s efforts through presentations, education and self-identification of their reasons for not smoking marijuana.

The Prevention Club shared the toolkit with youth leaders from all over Clark County who were hoping to implement similar resources at their schools. Bay was selected to present it at the Spring Youth Forum for Washington state’s youth prevention teams. The active club also has partnered locally on awareness campaigns with the Department of Health and PREVENT!

While the message is important, so are the messengers. And the Prevention Club is determined to let their friends and classmates struggling with substance issues know that they are not alone.