Rising above the influence

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TOWNSHEND - Every year, new middle school students opt to join Leland & Gray's Above the Influence (ATI) club.

The mission of the group, led by West River Valley Thrives, is to rise above the influence of negative social pressures such as drugs, peer pressure or violence.

Throughout the school year, this team of inspiring students attends workshops and organizes events for their fellow students. This year, new seventh graders attended a weekend-long training in Brattleboro at the High 5 Adventure Learning Center, along with teens from around Windham County.

High 5 staff led students through a series of team building challenges over the course of the weekend, many of which required them to push their own limits and have faith in one another. Students spent the majority of the weekend in the tree tops - climbing, swinging and working together to accomplish each challenge.

The goal of this training is for students to discover the leadership qualities within themselves and become empowered to go back to their school or community and make a difference.

Meanwhile, eighth grade ATI students were in Montpelier, reviewing the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey results. This survey, completed by Vermont students every two years, provides information on all aspects of student wellness, with an emphasis on drugs and alcohol.

This student-led training, called "Getting to Y,", is an annual program in the capitol and helps students bring meaning to their own school's YRBS results. This month, the Leland & Gray ATI group will use what they learned to host a dialogue with students and teachers at their school about these survey results during which time strengths and concerns will be identified.


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