Ridge Against Drugs, also known as RAD, a youth leadership group based in Bernards Township, has won the “Action Award” from the Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute, a New Jersey program and non-profit organization that encourages young people to meet their potential.
RAD is group is made up of high-school aged students who have made the pledge to remain alcohol-, tobacco-, and drug-free during their high school years, when many young people face pressure from their peers to use such substances.
Many members of RAD attend the Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute (LMTI) in order to gain leadership training to take back to their communities, according to information from the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse. RAD is a group sponsored by the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse.
RAD members have been attending LMTI for nearly a decade now, said a release from the municipal alliance.
Participating students attend a one-week leadership conference held at the end of August at Camp Mason, in Hardwick, NJ. There, the students hear from many different speakers, engage in a ropes course to build team trust, meet with their own groups from their towns, and are encouraged to meet with students from other groups.
Many different groups attend LMTI from all different regions of New Jersey. “They’re given an incredible opportunity to meet students that they may never have had the chance to meet before,” says the group’s advisor, Kaitlin Kordusky. “They’re able to get ideas from other communities and make new lifelong friends in a positive environment.”
LMTI’s stated mission is to guide young people to realize their leadership potential and become empowered to create change in themselves, their schools, and their communities, according to the organization's website.
Every year, the group gets the opportunity to report back to LMTI about their accomplishments during the school year. RAD has taken part in numerous events and initiatives during the 2012-2013 school year, including; Teen Movie Night, Youth Summit Day, Somerset County’s 16th Annual Youth Conference, Teen Volunteer Fair, the “It’s 21 for a Reason” Football Game, the Ridge Booth, and most recently, the Twilight Challenge 5K.
Kordusky said she believes RAD is making progress in reaching Ridge students.
"The whole point of LMTI and RAD is to
empower kids to feel great so that they don’t feel the need to do drugs
and alcohol," Kordusky said. "The RAD kids love the concept of 'Natural Highs' described
by Dr. Matt Bellace. Doing things that make you happy so you get 'high
"The RAD kids want to spread that message in the high school," Kordusky said. "It’s my hope that the message comes through and will begin to grab the attention of more high school kids."
She added the students feel like
they can discuss the subject freely and without judgment. "I believe
that’s also progress, and that’s what LMTI allows the students to do," she said.
The Municipal Alliance hopes to become more known and involved at the middle school and high school level to bring our message to students, she said.
Ridge Against Drugs' many projects recognized
This year, their hard work paid off and RAD was presented with the Action Award at LMTI.
The Action Award is presented to groups “for promoting healthy lifestyle choices through an outstanding prevention program focusing on service to their community and advocacy in 2012-2013.” RAD’s Action Group Representative, Katherine Leopold reported back to LMTI each month about what RAD was doing.
“It truly shows that Ridge Against Drugs is an innovative, positive, and thriving drug prevention program," she said. "Everyone who is a part of RAD puts in a lot of time to make it great, and it feels like all of our hard work has finally paid off! I can't wait to be a part of RAD this year."
For more information on the Municipal Alliance or RAD, please visit www.bernardsalliance.org.
The mission of the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse is to provide consultation, programs, training and resources to members of the Bernards Township community with the goal of preventing and reducing the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs through education, support of events and programs and presence in the community.
Anonymous student surveys have shown that Ridge seniors are most likely to regularly use alcohol or marijuana, the most frequently abused substances, but that some use can begin a few years earlier.