More than 400 students from 12 Hart District junior high and high schools and Castaic Middle School participated in the DFYIT Youth Summit last week to participate in team building activities, listen to guest speakers and strategize on ways to encourage their peers to participate in the Drug Free Youth In Town (DFYIT) program launched in September at each school.
The DFYIT program, a collaborative project between the City of Santa Clarita, SCV Sheriff’s Department and the Hart School District, has been implemented at all comprehensive schools to educate students on the dangers of drug use and abuse and encourage making the choice to lead a healthy and drug-free lifestyle.
The City of Santa Clarita hosts the Youth Summit as part of their Youth and Family program, in partnership with the Hart District each year. This year, the theme was tied in to the new DFYIT program and included panelists of local young people that had become addicted to drugs, their journey to become drug-free and strong messages to the students to not take drugs and how to best help a friend that is. The half-day event was held at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex and also included interactive activities and a video presentation.
“The positive effects for these students is evident but real success will be measured as each of these students reach out to their peer group to continuously increase the number of students willing to commit to living drug free,” Kathy Hunter, Director of Student Services, Hart School District, said. “It is a grass roots effort for teens to influence one another to change the culture for their generation.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry welcomed and addressed the students and encouraged the students to be the drivers of change and to “flip the script” on peer pressure, by making it preferable to be drug-free.
Students that sign up for the program meet new friends that share their same goal of leading a healthy lifestyle, receive drug and alcohol prevention education, be recognized and rewarded for being drug-free, attend fun and educational field trips, develop leadership skills and participate in community service projects. The DFYIT program transforms the school campus culture by educating, celebrating, and empowering its members. As a result, students are comfortable saying they are drug free and willing to prove it.
Parents will benefit from up to date drug and alcohol trend information, receive results of positive drug and alcohol screenings, learn how to recognize signs of drug and alcohol abuse, and have a proactive support system of professionals and parents.
The District Board and administration are highly supportive of this new community-wide endeavor and encourage parents to talk to their child about participating. One of the greatest benefits of this program is that while there is a teacher/club advisor and City staff person who assist with the implementation of the program, it is a peer led and peer driven program. Instead of teens feeling like they are being told what to do by adults, they have their own peers who encourage them to join.
For additional program details or to sign up your student, visit the program’s website at www.DFYITscv.com or the DFYIT Advisor at your student’s school.