by Sean Clarke, Prevention Assistant, Casa Grande Alliance

Through high school, you could say I was the type of person who went with the flow. I believed as long as something wasn’t problematic or inconvenient, I didn’t need to speak out against it. During my sophomore year, my friends persuaded me to join Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), because they thought I would enjoy being in a club that had the same core values as I had for myself. So, I decided to join. At the time, I was a quiet and shy person, so when the chapter held elections for officer positions, I saw no need to run for anything. As time went by, I started opening up more, but never to the point where I saw a leadership position in my future.

My junior year was the moment my role in SADD changed for the better. I, a football player at the time, got sidelined by a major concussion, and it prevented me from playing for the remainder of the year. This was an unfortunate event, but it led to becoming more involved with SADD. Fortunately, I had more time to be with my peers who had been involved in SADD themselves. It was at this time that I had the opportunity to become the assistant to the SADD liaison from the Casa Grande Alliance office. Being the liaison’s assistant allowed me to become directly involved with the leadership of the club. The following year, I was a senior and in the same position, but our leadership was in shambles.

The past leadership left the club in an odd position, so the new leadership team had to work twice as hard just to regroup. The abundant problems we were facing came with many rushed ideas or incomplete plans that would have ended in failure or poor turnout. Foreseeing this, I questioned every detail to make sure we had an actual goal. I asked, “Is this something we could achieve with our resources?” This is one of the main questions I asked for all of the activities that didn’t seem planned out. The question also provided clarification regarding where we were heading with the proposed activity. These interactions led to everything slowing down to a point where our planning improved and our activity completion rate increased. The thought that I could be in a position to lead never crossed my mind until the moment I was trusted with the purpose to lead.

A year has passed, and I’m no longer a SADD member, but am now the SADD liaison with the Casa Grande Alliance. Being in this leadership position allows me to work with and guide the SADD clubs. I have watched the youth, who now participate in SADD, grow as leaders. For example, the 2016 president of one of the SADD clubs was valedictorian and the vice president was salutatorian. They led the club by example and helped SADD members develop as leaders. Their hard work paved the way for many new things in the school, and they inspired others to achieve more. Both leaders worked hard to build a solid foundation for those who would soon follow in their footsteps.

The leadership qualities that I once never saw in myself came to be known through my participation in SADD. I can see those same qualities being built in the youth I work with on a daily basis. You can notice a difference in the approach they take, how they are taking on more responsibility in large projects, and becoming more confident in the choices and decisions they make. It feels phenomenal to help facilitate the growth of these traits in youth, because as they get older these traits will always be with them. It is these leadership skills that will help them succeed and flourish wherever they may go.