Local teens celebrate being substance-free

A group of teens and adults from the upcoming show "Attention Must Be Paid" performed a song from it for the Springfield City Commissioners on Tuesday as part of the statewide "We Are the Majority" celebrations across Ohio. The event was for students who choose to stay free of substance-abuse.

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A group of teens and adults from the upcoming show "Attention Must Be Paid" performed a song from it for the Springfield City Commissioners on Tuesday as part of the statewide "We Are the Majority" celebrations across Ohio. The event was for students who choose to stay free of substance-abuse.

Annual event one of several this spring geared to children, families.

Several Springfield teens showed their pride in being substance-free, joining their peers across the state Tuesday for the annual We Are the Majority Rally.

They gathered at Shamrock Recreation Center to enjoy food, live music, games and fellowship as others in the state did the same in Columbus in a virtual version of the event sponsored by the Prevention Action Alliance. Clark County Partners in Prevention (CCPIP) backed the local event and is one of several projects the organization is doing this spring to encourage kids and family members to make healthy life choices.

We Are the Majority reflects the choices of the majority of Ohio youth who choose not to use substances.

CCPIP’s Carey McKee said youth need alternative activities that are safe and comfortable and being with like-minded peers helps.

“This is to empower youth to make changes in their communities,” she said.

One of the teens, a high school freshman, said she grew up with a mom who was an addict and didn’t want that to be her future. She admitted to vaping in middle school but chose to turn her life around and said the key was being around the right people.

“I have a hard time saying no to things like that, so I stay around friends who don’t do anything like that,” she said.

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Karen Brucker has seen the worst addiction can do. A year ago at this time, her son, Cameron, was about to graduate from Shawnee High School, but just weeks after he was in rehab after taking substances laced with fentanyl, eventually passing away from it in September.

She and her husband have created a group called Cameron’s Warriors to get kids involved to create a community to talk freely in preventing or overcoming substance abuse. Brucker has spoken at Shawnee and is taking the message to the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center.

“This isn’t the ‘60s, the ‘70s or the ‘80s anymore. The drugs now like fentanyl rewire your brain. It’s that powerful,” Brucker said.

The Bruckers will continue building Cameron’s Crusaders over the next few months with the hope that if they can save even one life, the effort will be worth it.

CCPIP is also promoting a campaign for the prom and graduation season called “Parents Who Host Lose the Most,” with a series of billboards and signs reminding parents that hosting parties or allowing underage kids to drink or do substances is illegal and dangerous. A 2021 survey found 27% knew of parents who were serving alcohol to minors.

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McKee said brains are still developing and substance abuse – whether it’s alcohol, drugs or vaping – can trigger a disorder.

“Alcohol is the most widely-used substance among youth and poses enormous health and safety risks. We’re just trying to make our community’s parents aware,” McKee said. “We want to increase awareness and keep our community and kids safe.”

CCPIP will also inform and entertain the community by sponsoring an upcoming theatrical experience that will use dance, music and theater to explore, understand and start a conversation about substance use and dependence.

The teen cast and directors of “Attention Must Be Paid” performed a song to be featured in the show for the Springfield City Commissioners prior to their monthly meeting at Springfield City Hall on Tuesday.

The free show will be presented at 7 p.m. June 3 and 4 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center’s Turner Studio Theatre.

For more information on CCCIP and its programs, go to www.clarkcountypip.org/.

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