by Nicole Youcupicio, Casa Grande Alliance, Prevention Specialist
Casa Grande has 55,477 full-time residents. Out of those, approximately 16,000 are children. This means youth account for almost a third of our City’s population. Our children are our future leaders.
We all want to see youth succeed and one effective way to ensure that is by providing youth with real opportunities to lead. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), the nation’s largest youth health and safety organization, empowers young people to research and take action on critical issues important to them. This, in turn, provides a remarkable opportunity for our youth to develop and sharpen their leadership skills.
SADD has a very strong presence in Casa Grande. Our local SADD chapters promote healthy choices with peers and help make positive changes on school campuses and in communities.
We asked current Vista Grande High School SADD member Kacee Rowland to answer a few questions on how SADD has positively impacted her life and helped her find the leader within.
Why did you join SADD?
“I joined SADD so that I could have the opportunity to help kids and families in the community while spending time with my friends. Also, the concept of SADD intrigued me. The idea behind SADD is so broad that it allows a lot of room for creativity.”
What has been your favorite SADD experience?
“My favorite SADD experiences have been performing at the anti-drug rallies for the local fourth and fifth graders and volunteering for the Silent Witness Anti-Crime Night. For me, it is the activities where I get to interact with the kids that are the most fun.”
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing your peers?
“The biggest issue with my peers is conformity. I think my peers yield to group pressure because if they try to go against them there is the fear of criticism. This problem isn’t just involving drugs, such as Juuls or alcohol, but it is also present in the classroom (bullying) and outside of school (dating pressure).”
What advice would you give someone who has just joined SADD?
“I would tell them that if they think SADD sounds fun, it is even better than they can imagine. Throughout the year we participate in so many fun activities that it will benefit you and help you grow without you even noticing it.”
How have your parents supported you with SADD?
“My parents were very encouraging about me joining SADD. They saw it as a perfect opportunity for me to learn and to teach my peers about the dangers of drugs, drinking and driving, and other destructive behaviors.”
What leadership qualities have you gained by being in SADD?
“After being a member in SADD, I am more open to public speaking. It is not as frightening as it once was. I am now more likely to share my opinions and ideas in discussions. Overall, SADD has taught me to rise to the occasion when originally I would just sit back. I am no longer hesitant in sharing my voice, and I have learned that ‘no’ should not be a word that feels uncomfortable to say when it comes to making good choices for my future.”
In a nutshell, John C. Maxwell said it best: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” These are the leaders that SADD creates.
If your daughter or son is interested in joining SADD, please call the Casa Grande Alliance at 520-836-5022 or visit our website at casagrandealliance.org for more information.