public health

Local students join We Are The Majority Rally

From PREVENTION ACTION ALLIANCE About 2,000 Ohio middle and high school students marched in downtown Columbus as part of the 8th annual We Are The Majority Rally (WATM Rally) to celebrate healthy lifestyles and advocate for youth-led prevention. About 30 students from Wood County joined the rally. The WATM Rally is an annual event by Prevention Action Alliance (PAA) with funding from the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (OhioMHAS). It raises awareness about the fact that the vast majority of young people do not use drugs or alcohol. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine took to the stage at the WATM Rally to encourage teens to make their voices heard. “It’s important for legislators, governors, and people who are concerned about the drug problem to listen to you,” Gov. DeWine said. According to government officials and event organizers, the event creates a community for young people who choose not to use drugs, and it celebrates those healthy choices. “Adolescence is a critical time to prevent drug addiction,” said OhioMHAS Director Lori Criss. “Research tells us that early use of alcohol, nicotine and other drugs greatly increases a young person’s chances of becoming addicted. The good news is we know prevention works. Spreading this message among strong youth leaders and their peers is imperative to create positive change at the community level.” More than 120 organizations brought almost 2,000 youth from 75 cities to the WATM Rally to hear that message and create that positive change, according to Harim C. Ellis, director of the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network (OYLPN) at PAA. “This event proves young people can get excited and organize around positive behaviors and identities,” said Harim C. Ellis, director of youth-led services and the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network (OYLPN) at PAA. “The We Are The Majority Rally celebrates the fact that the majority of young people aren’t using drugs and alcohol and are making positive decisions. It lets young people know that they’re not alone when they choose not to use drugs.” Ellis said the WATM Rally was planned and led by the OYLPN Youth Council, which is comprised of 10 teen leaders from across Ohio. One of those teens, Jade Eilers, said substance misuse is an issue close to her and has…

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