PORTAGE, CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — For the first time, a Cambria County high school student was chosen to represent the state for S.A.D.D., a student run peer to peer prevention program.
There are 197 Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.) chapters across the state and this year Justice Giordano from Portage was selected.
“I will be going to like conferences and talking about substance abuse, mental health, preventing it and awareness and I’ll be educating people,” says Giordano.
She’s been involved with the group since eighth grade and this year wants to focus on mental health.
“We don’t talk about it a lot and don’t realize how bad it can be. It is a problem and we should be reaching out and doing stuff to prevent it,” says Giordano. “I know a lot of people who have dealt with depression and anxiety…a lot of people say it’s in your mind or you fake it..but I just really want to educate everyone. It is a real problem and we can try to help those people instead of just putting them down.”
S.A.D.D. used to stand for Students Against Drunk Drivers, but changed it’s name in the 1990’s.
“To really encompass all of the challenges that young people face and to create a positive approach to dealing with those challenges,” says Felicity Erni, State Coordinator for S.A.A.D.
Brian Randall is the S.A.D.D. Advisor for Portage and says now more than ever students need leadership through the group.
“They are exposed to so much and have so many other influences that can be negative so it’s really nice to have a student-led organiztion like this where the kids are also with their peers and they can see all these things happening and help make positive decisions.”
“If you get that one person they look up to say it’s not cool…I don’t do that so you shouldn’t either…they’ll be like I wanna be like them. Getting a bunch of positive influences in the schools would be a very big step,” says Giordano.