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HYTF Launches Sober Up Your Status Campaign

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The Holyoke Youth Task Force is proud to announce the launch of our Sober Up Your Status (SUYS) campaign! SUYS is an experimental marketing campaign to reduce youth social media posts about drinking and drug use, and to educate the Holyoke community about responsible and safe social media use.

The HYTF believes that the online community forged through youth interaction with social media is an environment like any other, and requires the engagement and participation of adults and community-based organizations to make it a safer place for youth to be. According to a 2012 study by Common Sense Media, 67% of teens have access to a mobile device that connects to the internet. 90% of teens have visited a social media site and 75% maintain a profile. Given this data, it seems impossible to discount the ability of social media engagement to influence youth perception about their peers’ activities. The Sober Up Your Status campaign was created to educate youth in Holyoke about the possible repercussions of exposing their online communities to messages about drugs and alcohol.

Peer Education

Sober Up Your Status will be implemented from April – August of 2013 with the help of three phenomenal Peer Educators, who were hired after an exhaustive search. We asked them to write short personal statements to introduce themselves to the community and explain a little about why this work is inspiring to them.

Raul Devers

Hi, my name is Raul Devers. I’m a seventeen year old teen father who works for the Sober Up Your Status campaign. I feel very strongly about teens degrading themselves on social media by saying they are high or they woke up with a hangover. These teens feel cool when they do things like this and they make others feel pressured into not being sober. It reminds me of my aunt who passed away from very strong drug use, which began with a little pressure just as the teens now experience—this is an ongoing issue. It’s a really good thing to look responsible on social media because you can say the wrong thing and have the wrong friend who was on your page at the wrong time. This might include teenagers you’re trying to persuade about doing good at the moment, and then you mess up everything when they see how irresponsible you we are being on that social network.

Also important people such as your boss and leaders of the community who are starting to respect you could see negative posts, and you slip up and lose all the respect! What I would say to an adult who down talks social media sites such as Twitter and or Facebook is that maybe I can show them that it can be the total opposite than what they believe it to be by showing them how teens express their feelings there. Teens use it to share how things make them feel nowadays; it’s hard on them when adults don’t listen to those little hints thrown at them. The hardest part for me in this job would be speaking in big crowds but I can work around it.

Neishalee Alvarado

My name is Neishalee Alvarado and I work for Sober Up Your Status! The way I feel about other teens posting online about being drunk or doing drugs, I feel like they do it for attention, to be cool, and more. It makes me feel like they don’t know what they are doing putting harm in their bodies, I see that I look at them different. I don’t look at them with the respect that I look at others with. I think it’s very important to set examples to everyone, not just friends, family members, people all around. I set an example to my little brothers and sister the most. I want them to grow up as a good people, to be kind, when they use the internet I want them to use it the right way. I want them and everyone else that looks up to me to see that you can make a change, it doesn’t matter how old you are if you have something to say, speak up.

I think Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, are important because you can learn a lot on them. You don’t just go on them and just update your statues or anything like that. If you have the right people on your page, the ones that can give off good examples you can learn a lot. A lot of things that are said on the internet are true, that’s why you need to be careful what you write or what you put on the internet. I think the hardest part [of this job] will be to work with new people, at times I can be shy. After awhile I get use to it, but I would stick to it because I like to try new things, I wouldn’t want to give up on an opportunity like this. To speak up, to set an example, most importantly to make a change!

Aisha Cruz

My name is Aisha Cruz. I am 16 years old and I work for Sober Up Your Status. I am a peer educator and there are a couple personal things I would like to share with you today. My personal experience with alcohol, smoking, etc. is that I lived around people that did it all the time and didn’t realize how others felt. Today what I see lately on the Internet are young teens doing the same things; drinking, smoking and using drugs, and they don’t realize how it affects others when they see it. When I see photos and videos of many teens doing that, it brings sadness and hurt to me because that is not a good start in life. I think is important to project a responsible image to the online community because it is a way where you can show how well you really use the Web for good. I would want to set an example for my family, but also mostly my friends because they are teens. I would like to earn my respect from my friends, and not only them but also other people that look at my page.

I think is important for organizations like the Holyoke Youth Task Force to go online because that is where teenagers are and spent most of their time. If an adult came to me and said that Facebook and Twitter are not important, my response would be, “I don’t think so because that is where we can reach out to teenagers, but also adults.” I think the hardest part about working in the Sober Up Your Status campaign is talking. It is difficult at first since I am new at this. I still want to do this work because I do want to reach to other teenagers any possible way I can.

Thank you to all three of our amazing SUYS Peer Educators! In the near future we will be available to do workshops with the youth in your organizations about safe and responsible social media usage. If you’d like us to put on a workshop for your program, please contact Leah Uberseder at leah@youthtaskforce.org or by calling (413) 532-6247 ext. 108.