I am honored to introduce our first group of GameChanger Peer Leaders. This group of students is from Wheeling Park High School and has nine students, three Juniors and six Freshman. It includes members from the dance, cheerleading, wrestling, baseball, football, and basketball teams.
Wheeling Park was the first in our group of pilot schools to train in the Peer Leader model. They were trained by Corinne Brisbois from the Hazelden Betty Ford’s Preventions Solutions staff. The training took place January 24-26. The program is both a social and educational experience. It offers support, and encouragement to these student leaders. They will carry our GameChanger, healthy lifestyles message to their peers and to younger students throughout West Virginia. They represent the beginning of a cultural shift in our West Virginia schools and communities.
Ms. Brisbois stated that she genuinely enjoyed working with the students and noted how motivated and enthusiastic they were. “These vibrant students shared and encouraged one another, as they practiced and developed the skills needed to communicate and influence other young people. They came to the training as individuals, many not knowing each other, and left as a team of GameChangers, ready and willing to share the message that the majority of young people choose not to use alcohol and other drugs.”
Wheeling Park Peer Leaders will soon visit area middle schools to speak to these younger students. Each team member will discuss their personal commitment to remain substance-free. They will provide information on the dangers of substance misuse and serve as positive role models for middle school students who will soon enter high school. The team will let it be known that drug use in high school is definitely not cool.
Danny Doyle, the GameChanger Coach at Wheeling Park is a social studies teacher and wrestling coach. He is in his eighth year of teaching and has served at Wheeling Park for five years. Danny said, that in addition to visiting the middle schools, and as part of the school’s Social Norms Campaign, the Peer Leadership Team plans to collaborate with the school’s radio/TV program to develop public service announcements. These PSA’s will air on the Jumbotron during football games.
Danny is most excited about seeing the difference his team will make in the community. “I hope this can be a culture change at Wheeling Park. In addition to substance misuse, Denny stated that vaping is a problem at the school. He believes the Peer Leadership Team can have a positive impact in both areas. He said that, as a GameChanger coach, he has enjoyed getting to know more about the students on his team. “During the training, I got to know who these kids are, and I know they are committed to healthy lifestyles and to helping their classmates stay substance free.”
Thank you to Danny and to all the Peer Leaders at Wheeling Park for all you’re doing for your community! Stay tuned to learn about our next group of Peer Leaders from Clay-Battelle Middle/High School!