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Worthington teens take proactive approach to decision making through SADD

WORTHINGTON — A group of teenagers at Worthington High School are in the front seat when it comes to finding proactive solutions to tough decisions.

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) met Wednesday to discuss teen driving and how to educate the greater segment of the student body about safe driving practices.

The peer advocacy group will dedicate the morning of Dec. 13 to providing seatbelt checks as their peers roll into the student parking lot. Students wearing their seatbelt will be given a Smartie candy, and those not restrained will receive a Dum Dum lollipop.

Teachers should not be exempt from the seatbelt checks that morning, the group agreed.

SADD members will also research teen driving statistics and distribute them on candy canes Dec. 20 to their peers before winter break.

Teen driving is not the only topic SADD tackles. SADD junior New Bu said that at the beginning of the school year, the group tries to come up with topics for the whole year.

“We brainstorm ideas that we feel need a solution,” he said.

The idea is that the group discusses a new topic each month, and brainstorms an activity or activities during their weekly meetings that it can sponsor to educate and influence its peers and teachers not active in SADD.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, the group will likely center its discussion in January around respect, inclusiveness and dreams. In February, it will turn its attention to teen dating violence and look into collaborating with the Southwest Crisis Center.

SADD already took part in activities related to kindness and drug prevention as part of the nationally recognized Red Ribbon Week in October.

SADD Advisor and Worthington High School Counselor Lakeyta Swinea said she believes the peer-to-peer model is one of the most effective ways to promote positive decisions.

“I think the best way for youth to be educated is to hear from others that are faced with what they’re going through,” Swinea said.

That’s not to say students do not listen to adults, Swinea added, but students generally see their peers as individuals they can better connect with because they share similar experiences.

Worthington Senior Lay Yu Paw has been an active member of SADD since freshman year.

“It’s interesting to see this kind of group exists and we try to get students interested in stuff,” she said.

Paw added that she has heard positive feedback about what SADD is doing in the school.

Swinea said the SADD chapter at Worthington High School has been active in the school for quite some time. It uses resources from the national organization and tailors that to the culture and climate within the school at Worthington, she added.

The national SADD organization, founded in 1981, oversees chapters in all 50 states with the goal “to empower young people to successfully confront the risks and pressures that challenge them throughout their daily lives.”

To learn more about the national organization, visit www.sadd.org.

Alyssa Sobotka

Alyssa joined The Globe in July 2017 and covers education and crime beats. The Nebraska native earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. In her own sarcastic tone, her blog, Aimlessly Navigating, recounts the reality, pitfalls and triumphs of a young 20-something navigating to maturity. Follow her on Twitter: @alyssasobotka

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