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Watch and Learn Student PSA Project Prevents Substance Abuse

Club Elevated PSA photo of student on a couch holding a glass of wine as part of an online forum

Club Elevated showcases students’ public service announcements about underage drinking, opioids and more.

Underage drinking sends more than 150,000 people to hospital emergency rooms every year. That is one of the things Abby Labadie learned while working on a video project at Canyon Hills High School. 

This semester, her class made public service announcements (PSAs) about substance abuse. Labadie not only sharpened her video skills, but also learned how alcohol can affect people in the long run. “For instance, it damages the heart, liver, pancreas and other organs,” she said. 

The PSAs were the result of a partnership between Club Elevated and the video class and were highlighted in an online forum organized by the club. Thirty parents, students, and school staff attended the forum. 

Club member Daniel Canuel told the group that alcohol is the most common substance used by minors. “It is important to know the media shows underage drinking everywhere, but in reality, it is not. In our county only about 1 in 14 high school juniors are currently heavy drinkers, according to the California Healthy Kids Survey. And two out of three juniors have never had a single drink in their whole lives.”

Canuel explained how something called “social norming” can help reduce underage drinking. “Social norming changes what we perceive as normal,” he said. “When we understand that most of our classmates are not drinking, it is easier to choose not to drink. People should be comfortable in choosing not to drink alcohol when they are underage and under pressure.” 

Raquel Rosenthal used humor and her dog Kyo to deliver messages about underage drinking. 

“I learned about how serious substance abuse can be and how it can affect teenagers more than you’d think,” Rosenthal said. “I hope people dealing with addiction know that they are not alone, and they can reach out for help.”

A PSA from Sabrina Hernandez looked at California’s Overdose Protection Law, sometimes called a Good Samaritan Law. This is the law that protects bystanders who try to help someone who passes out after drinking or is suffering from an overdose.

“Before this project, I had never heard of the law,” Hernandez said. “People who are underage and have been drinking might not call 9-1-1 to help someone else. They are afraid of getting arrested. But if they know about the Good Samaritan Law, they might make the call and save a life.”  

Nikolas Opolyar-Warren also made a PSA about the Overdose Protection Law. His video explained that the law is not just about underage drinking. 

“Do not be scared to call authorities,” Opolyar-Warren said. “Neither you nor they will be prosecuted for possession or consumption of illegal substances. Saving lives is the priority. Don’t let someone die if you have the ability to help.”

Club Elevated’s Nick Alcorn said everyone can prevent accidental overdoses.

“One great idea is to clean out your medicine cabinets,” he said. “Make it a routine thing to see there are no prescription drugs gathering dust in your cabinet. You can dispose of whatever old pills you find at drop boxes at police stations, drug stores and even supermarkets.” 

To find the closest drop box, you can use the county’s new interactive map at https://www.sandiegorxabusetaskforce.org/.  Or you can go to http://bit.ly/rxdropboxnearme and type in your ZIP code.  

Alcorn said if someone in the family is using painkillers or tranquilizers prescribed by a doctor, the pills should be stored safely. “It’s a great idea to get a lock box for your medications so they don’t fall into the wrong hands.” Most pharmacies and drugstores sell combination lockboxes or secure pill storage devices that cost less than $15. 

Video production teacher Effren Villanueva said he was glad his students teamed up with Club Elevated to create the PSAs. 

“I’m very proud of our students. Substance abuse is a serious topic, and the students showed maturity and professionalism in producing these videos.” 

Besides being shown at the showcase, the student PSAs were featured on Club Elevated’s social media accounts. 
  
For more information about Club Elevated at Canyon Hills High School, contact Stacy Chiles at schiles@saysandiego.org


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