Guest blog by Michael Doerrer, FCPS Director of Communications, Community Engagement, and Marketing
On April 18, FCPS and several community partners, including the Rotary Clubs of Frederick County, Wells House, the YMCA of Frederick, Frederick County Council Member Billy Shreve (who has worked to coordinate the contest), and others, will celebrate the second running of the Classmates4Life anti-drug abuse film contest. The contest started in 2016. The idea was simple and to-the-point: help fight the abuse of opioids and other drugs by asking young people to speak directly to their peers about the dangers of those substances. The contest encouraged FCPS students to produce short public service announcements on that theme. In the first year of the contest, more than 100 students across the county participated.
Every day, adults work to educate children and adolescents about how important it is to make good and healthy choices for their lives. In school and at home, we tell young people repeatedly about the dangers of drugs and alcohol – I share that message with my own kids almost every day. But anyone who has experience with children knows that sometimes (maybe oftentimes) they pay closer attention to their friends than they do to their parents or teachers. The most powerful and impactful messages can often come from peers.
That’s the main reason the Classmates4Life contest has been so successful. Student filmmakers (many of them using nothing more complicated than an iPhone) have produced short but effective anti-drug videos that have more than 100,000 views. The contest has been a fantastic example of the ability of young people to reach out to one another in affirming, supportive, and constructive ways – to make a positive impact in each other’s lives. You can see the films they produced here. Some of them are sad. Some are funny. All of them clearly communicate a critical message.
I think it’s also an important feature of the contest that it provide a tangible, accessible way for young people to make meaningful change in our community. We hear about the crisis of opioids and prescription drug abuse almost every day on the news. A stream of news about how drugs are harming our communities can help to foster a sense of helplessness. This can be even truer for children who may be watching as parents, family members, and friends struggle with addiction.
By providing a platform like Classmates4Life, we’re reinforcing the message that no problem is insurmountable – we can all make small, local contributions that will eventually add up to positive change. It has been heartening to see students step up to offer their creativity and their insight to help their peers.
So on Wednesday, April 18, starting at 5:45pm, we’ll welcome all of this year’s student filmmakers to a red carpet awards ceremony to celebrate their achievements and to thank them for their work to make our community stronger and safer. We invite everyone in the community to attend to help us celebrate. You can find more information here. In the meantime, watch and share the videos our filmmakers have produced – they could make a difference in someone’s life.
Have you seen the Classmates4Life videos? Tell us what you think on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And whether or not you agree with this post, if you enjoyed it, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.