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Anti-drug initiative coordinated by students to reach students

Kaitlyn Dunlap (L), a language arts teacher and advisor for the youth-led anti-drug initiative DHS Y2Y, and student members Ciana Petrullo, Abby Miller, Jared Howard, Giavanna Todd, Matt Salvo, a guest from Tusky Valley, Trisha Kosmides and Kim Rykse of Personal & Family Counseling Services.


While Youth-to-Youth International has been around since 1982, the Dover High School chapter formed this year. DHS Y2Y members began meeting at the start of the current school year.

The community-based drug prevention and youth leadership program aims to harness the powerful influence of peer pressure, making it a positive force that encourages young people to live a drug-free lifestyle.

“Dover High School was approached by the Tuscarawas Anti-Drug Coalition to see if they would be interested in presenting the idea of youth-led prevention to their students and staff,” said Jodi Salvo of Personal & Family Counseling, a nonprofit family service agency. “Youth-led prevention is a vehicle for students to become empowered to make change in their school and in their community. The students and staff advisor, Kaitlyn Dunlap, have hit the road running.”

DHS Y2Y members are currently working on a presentation called pHARMING Effects, which they will present to schools in Tuscarawas County and at community events. Their first presentation will be Thursday, Nov. 13 at the Tuscarawas County Senior Center from 6:30-8 p.m. The event is open to the public.

”The pHARMING Effects was created by a group of teens from central Ohio who adapted a toolkit from the Ohio State University School of Pharmacy’s Generation Rx Initiative, then transformed it into an interactive youth-led presentation.

The students’ presentation is one of a three-part series titled, “Bearing the Weight of a Loved One’s Addiction.” “Their engaging presentation will educate the audience on the dangers of prescription medication abuse and misuse,” Salvo said.

A panel discussion will follow and will consist of local addiction professionals as well as an individual impacted by addiction.

“The DHS Y2Y is hoping to become a change agent both in their school and in the community,” said Salvo. “They want to be the faces that represent most teens who are substance-free and making good and healthy choices.”

Trisha Kosmides, a Dover High School sophomore, was asked to become a part of DHS Y2Y. “I came to be a part of Y2Y after being chosen by the Dover High School assistant principal, the sophomore class advisor and two members of the prevention staff from Personal & Family Counseling Services as being a student that makes good choices, has strong leadership skills and would be a good representative of a youth leading a drug-free life,” Kosmides said.

According to Kosmides, prescription drugs are abused by students at Dover High School. “Prescription drug abuse is an issue with students at Dover High School, but Y2Y believes if we educate the student body now, we can stop prescription drug abuse from being an ongoing problem,” she said.

By performing fun, engaging and educational skits in schools and in the community, and hosting events to encourage residents to learn and understand the dangers of prescription drug abuse and misuse as well as understanding addiction, Y2Y hopes that education can help reduce problems with prescription medications.

“They hope to educate and support other teens in choosing to lead substance-free lives and to make a difference,” Salvo said.

For more information about DHS Y2Y, ways to support the effort at Dover High School or to see how the coalition can expand youth-led prevention programs to other high schools, contact Jodi Salvo at Personal & Family Counseling Services at 330-343-8171.

Published: November 7, 2014
New Article ID: 2014711079983