October 22, 2013 —

Peer pressure can be either negative or positive. Luckily, in Hutchinson, Kan., there is a leadership group at Hutchinson High School that is working to influence their peers in a positive way. That group is called the Communities That Care (CTC) Leadership Group. When I started with CTC over six years ago, there were only eight teens involved in this group.

The group is now comprised of more than 100 youth leaders. In order to participate, the youth leaders must fill out applications and have references from teachers and members of the community. They must also sign a pledge to stay alcohol and drug free and to be a positive role model in their community.

Last year, the youth leaders went to eight elementary schools and presented to 5th and 6th graders on how to stay away from drugs and alcohol through fun games and skits. They were also involved in Red Ribbon Week activities at Hutchinson High School. And finally, the youth leaders put on a summit for middle school students throughout the entire county of Reno on the dangers of drug abuse and bullying. The summit involved six different school districts with students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade.

The youth leaders regularly volunteer at many community events to inform parents, kids, business members and other community leaders of the importance of their work to build a stronger community through promoting healthy youth lifestyles. Many of the people in our community who have interacted with these youth leaders have commented on how impressed they are with the work these teens are doing. Moreover, the effort that they are making with their own peers has really paid off in our community. In fact, we saw overall teen drug and alcohol consumption decrease from 8.4% to 5% between 2008 and 2012. CTC has been very fortunate to work with closely with Sgt. Becky Dyer from the Five Moms campaign on many of the drug and alcohol free events that CTC sponsors.  We were also able to provide many meaningful presentations and giveaways to peers and students due to the gracious T.E.A.M Award from the Five Moms.

Positive peer pressure is a very strong component in our community.  I am very proud of the past successes of the CTC Leadership Group, and I know they will experience more success in the future as they continue to work to reduce drug use in Reno County.  Positive peer pressure does work!

Have you seen positive peer pressure in action? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Reno County Communities That Care Association’s mission is to promote healthier choices for children and youth in Reno County through mentoring, substance abuse prevention, and strengthening families. CTC has many facets including school based mentoring, CTC Youth Leadership Group, Botvin LifeSkills, Strengthening Families and Parenting Wisely to reduce alcohol and drug use among youth, MADD’s Power of Parents to encourage parents not to serve alcohol to teens as well as many things to encourage positive youth behavior and to promote no drug or alcohol use among youth.

Sondra Borth is the Executive Director for CTC. She is married and has two grown sons and one grandson.  She has a BA in Phycology from Wichita State University and has been with CTC for the past six years.  Sondra has worked with youth most of her adult life and feels that healthy productive youth are the key to a healthy community.