Two Ignacio High School students won a silver medal in April for a project they presented at the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America state conference in Denver.
Ada Wilmer and Chloe Velasquez, both juniors, tackled the subject of methamphetamine and opioid addiction with their project “Give Support, Get Support.” The project was created and launched with the help of local coalition Celebrating Healthy Communities and nonprofit Southern Ute Community Action Programs.
FCCL is a national nonprofit organization for students in family and consumer sciences classes. Chapter projects center on youth concerns such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy and peer pressure.
According to family and consumer sciences teacher Lynn Blakesley, the students educated others on the importance of support for people suffering from addiction.
“Support is crucial for addicts and it is important to not be so judgmental,” Blakesley said. “The students showed how addiction is a mental health issue rather than a choice.”
Opioid addiction is a national problem that has impacted every state, including Colorado where the opioid-related death rate is double the rate of deaths in motor vehicle crashes, The Durango Herald reported in September.
Wilmer and Velasquez presented their awareness campaign during the advocacy portion of the conference. The project included a documentary-style video, posters and awareness bracelets.
Blakesley said the project resonates with just about everyone. “One of the girls has a family member who is suffering from addiction and through her she became passionate,” she said. “Everyone knows someone with an addiction. It is very relevant.”
The girls also received a Youth Spark Award Monday at the Ignacio Town Hall meeting. The award recognizes “youth who make a spark in the community they live in,” according to Blakesley.
The students plan to expand their project next year by changing the format to make it age-appropriate for younger audiences, Blakesley said.