SADD: Cape High nets Chapter of the Year honors
The Cape Coral High School Students Against Destructive Decisions were recently recognized as the SADD Chapter of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year.
“It was a major honor to say the least to be recognized at a national convention,” Cape Coral High School SADD sponsor Dianna Quay said. “There are 6,000 chapters in the U.S. To be selected is overwhelming.”
The recognition, she explained, is a little bit of validation of all the hard work she, and her students, do throughout the year
“None of it is paid positions. It’s all volunteer. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside,” Quay said.
Cape Coral High School has participated in the program for at least 20 years, when it used to be called Students Against Drunk Driving. She said the national organization changed the name to include other issues teenagers face such as texting and driving, wearing seatbelts, using opioids and vaping.
SADD focuses on any bad decision a student may make that has a negative impact on their life.
Last school year the Cape Coral High School SADD club had 145 students on its roster. This year the club has below 100 students involved.
“This year it seems to be a little slow, but that is typical of high school. We have only had one meeting so far. We are hoping that it will build as we go,” she said. “You usually have a core group of 50 kids that come to the meetings all the time and volunteer. There are a lot of people that are members, but not everyone is actively involved. If I have 10 kids I am happy because that is 10 kids making good decisions.”
SADD President, and Cape Coral High School student, Owen Foster-Hickey said the program is great because it brings a lot of students together to promote a drug and alcohol free lifestyle.
“The impact that we see is people come together,” he said, which encourages them not to make destructive decisions.
Quay said they have a very diverse population of students who are part of the club.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone can be cool and refuse,” she said.
Foster-Hickey said they have meetings on the second and fourth Friday of every month. Students can get involved by attending the meeting, participating in the different volunteer opportunities, or getting involved in the outreach events.
Throughout the 2018-2019 school year the SADD program had several different campaigns. One of which was a seat belt campaign that surveyed how many students did and did not wear a seatbelt, as well as providing education on the importance of seatbelts.
Quay said the held a Community Awareness field day event, which featured various organizations, such as the fire department, Lee Memorial Hospital and the library which all gathered on the school’s football field. She said there were vendors all around the field providing information that the students would not otherwise seek.
“We do things constantly throughout the year. Every month there is at least one campaign, if not two,” Quay said.
One of SADD’s biggest events will take place during the school’s homecoming game, which features #Refuse. The campaign encourages students to refuse anything that could jeopardize their safety, and be a bad decision.
“We started that campaign five years ago,” Quay said of working with the Lee County Coalition for a Drug Free Southwest Florida. “The community leaders come out and former alumni during homecoming. They line up on the field and everyone tweets #Refuse. Everyone does that at one time to break the internet.”
The goal is to make it a national campaign.
“The idea is to refuse to get in the car with anyone drinking. Refuse to text and drive. Refuse to do vaping,” Quay said, adding that it is about refusing destructive decisions.
Foster-Hickey said his goal is to get the #Refuse campaign out to as many people as he can.
The ultimate goal is to help at least one person, Foster-Hickey said.
Quay said they are proud of everything they do with the SADD club.
“The goal is to take what we have done and take this model and have it in every school in the district,” she said, adding that Oasis Middle School and the Boys and Girls Club added a club this year. “They are taking the model that we do and using that.”
Quay believes every high school in the district should have a SADD club. Currently, they are the only high school in the district to have the club.
“It’s a lot of personal time. I’m in the DROP Program. I only have two more years left. I do not plan on dropping SADD when I leave,” she said, adding that she can remain a sponsor .
The success of the club, Quay owes to a wonderful administrative staff, as well as faculty, that fully supports what SADD is all about.
“The administration supports what we do 100 percent,” she said. “They believe in our goal and mission and I commend them for that, and the rest of the staff.”
When there is a speaker, or assembly offered through the club, the staff allows the students to miss class, so they can attend, or cut class short.