SADD aims to help students make healthy decisions
By Amber Barrios, contributor
As a new school year begins, students at Red Wing High School have many important choices to make. While making mistakes is part of the learning curve, a new group at the school hopes to help students make positive decisions.
RWHS, in partnership with the Goodhue County Health Initiative, is working to form a Students Against Destructive Decisions or SADD chapter at the school.
"It's really a leadership group that takes a look at the areas within their school and communities they'd like to focus on," said Julie Hatch, executive director of the Goodhue County Chemical Health Initiative. Hatch will work with students and RWHS SADD adviser Mitchel Paulson, who is the counselor at RWHS.
According to the national SADD website, the group's mission is: "To provide students with the best prevention tools possible to deal with the issues of underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, and other destructive decisions."
The high school previously had a Target chapter, which focused on similar topics, but that group dissolved four years ago, Hatch said. Since then, she has heard from several students that there is a need for this type of resource at the school.
One of those students is RWHS senior Cameron Voigt. He says he supports having a SADD program "because there's some stuff going on at this school that no other programs at the high school are addressing."
"Some kids are involved with things they probably shouldn't be at this age," Voigt said. "I've been asked to go to some things and I've just decided I'd rather hang out with my friends that I've always hung out with who have always made good choices."
Voigt said his impetus for helping form a local SADD chapter stemmed from a conversation he had with Hatch, who is a family friend and whose job entails working with all six school districts in Goodhue County.
"She overheard my mom and I talking one night when she was over at the house, and she said, 'Hey, I've done this with other groups before in cities like Cannon Falls,'" Voigt said.
"We talked about it and how we should have one in Red Wing. It was working over in Cannon Falls and other places, so I thought maybe we should give it a try here and see how it goes," Voigt added.
Voigt, who participates in football, baseball and the SOAR — Success, Opportunity, Achievement, Recognition — program at RWHS, saidhe's been talking to other students over the summer to try to build interest in SADD.
"I've talked to maybe 10 or so people just this summer," Voigt said. "We tried to get it going last fall, but there wasn't enough interest."
Paulson said formal organizational meetings are yet to be scheduled.
"We're just getting the program started here at the high school," Paulson said. "We'll identify goals, form partnerships with community groups, get membership up, get the SADD group to have a presence and really be led by the students.
Paulson and Hatch said that SADD will planning Wednesday Night of Fun, an event that has been held in the past and takes place on the football field during homecoming week.
"Wednesday Night of Fun has been very popular with students in the community," Hatch said. "We take the kids out and have them participate in some fun, wacky activities. It's the only night of the week during homecoming when there wasn't something going on — the idea behind it being to get the kids involved, bring out the entire student body."
Students will learn details regarding SADD and the activities as September unfolds .
"I really want the students to take the lead because this is going to be a group that is important to them. They are going to know these are the needs we see, this is what we are hearing from our classmates," Paulson said.