Teens Encourage Peers To Stay Drug Free
Mari Domingo and Dakota Mengel are normal teens with an unusual, but important hobby – helping other youths stay free of drugs.
The Mililani juniors are two of eight high school students across Oahu who were selected as Teen Advisory Council members for the Hawaii Meth Project. Their job is to represent HMP at community events and to help create awareness campaigns to warn their classmates about the dangers of meth and other drugs.
The effort is one of pride and concern for those involved. “I have three younger sisters, and I don’t want them growing up knowing that it’s OK to do these drugs,” said Mengel, whose sisters are 6, 10 and 11. “I really want to help change lives. When we do our outreach, we show them that doing drugs is not how it’s made out to be, and you can help keep them from making future mistakes and ruining their lives.”
Council members work with their fellow students, teachers and HMP staff to create and effectively run the events.
But it all starts with them. “We are in charge of coordinating events at schools,” explained Domingo. “If we have an idea for an event, we work with Georgi (Georgiana DeCosta, HMP senior program manager) and David (Earles, HMP executive director) to make it possible for the project to come out.”
Though adults are the overall leaders, Earles said the teenagers’ involvement is key to the mission’s success. “This is the fourth consecutive year that we have been privileged to work with such talented and motivated students leaders. Peer-to-peer interaction is critical to sharing our message. Our main goal is to enable the members of this council to be strong voices in their communities far beyond the time they spend working directly with us there at Hawaii Meth Project,” he said.
That makes sense. Teenagers are the front line in the battle against drugs because they could be the future buyers, sellers and makers of illegal drugs.
“I know I have friends who, if I asked them, they’d say yes, they did meth,” noted Mengel. “It is in the community, and it is a problem. I can walk through school and pick out people and say I know they’ve done it, I know they’ve done it – and not just with meth, but with all kinds of drugs, like marijuana and other things.
“That’s why I joined the Teen Advisory Council, to put a stop to it.”