The Youth involved with Gardiner Area Thrives always have their hands on a number of projects that are aimed to support fellow members of their community to be aware of and choose healthier paths.
Youth volunteers provide input and advice for all members to work together on ways to reduce youth use of alcohol and marijuana including ways to address trauma and engage youth in more supportive and extracurricular activities.
The goal is to lower barriers for all youth and families so all youth are able to thrive.
Community Engagement with Gardiner Area High School
October 2022 and April 2023
Johnson Hall was happy to be part of a Gardiner Area Thrives Coalition and the Gardiner High School Librarian collaboration to support community engagement. Thank you to ABL Roofing & Construction for funding our Artists in the Schools Workshop and thank you to Shane Miclon for providing a great course on juggling!
Drug Take Back Day
April 6th Gardiner Area Thrives developed a PSA with our Keystone kids working with Merry St. Pierre of Townsquare Media! They scripted a PSA about National Prescription Drug Take Back Day that was aired on radio stations such as 92 Moose. Drug Take Back day was on Saturday, April 22nd. For more information and disposal locations, please visit https://www.dea.gov/takebackday
Community Mapping with the Gardiner Keystone Club at the Boys & Girls Club
In January of 2023, the Keystone Club at the Boys and Girls Club worked with April Hughes from HCCA to do a Community Mapping project where they described where the assets and the hot spots were in their community. The students worked on this for three months at their meetings and then presented and then presented to the Gardiner Area Coalition in April. Their recommendations are included in slide deck linked within the button below.
Red Ribbon Week
Red Ribbon Week Activities happened at the Gardiner Regional Middle School for the first time! Red Ribbon Week was promoted for a month and the JMG class (Jobs for Maine Graduates) program provided messaging for radio PSAs on staying substance free, the radio personality comes by and sees the class on a regular basis, forming a new relationship and collaboration with the coalition. The school promoted the event through their newsletter, Facebook and their outside marque. We also partnered with our Tobacco Prevention Coordinator and trained three high school students to provide a vaping presentation to the entire student body (approx. 450 students).
Student PRIDE Art Project
Gardiner Area Thrives (GAT) sponsored two after-school art sessions in partnership with Gardiner Area High School's Tigers Create! Students and staff created art for the Pride Art Walk for LGBTQ+ Youth and Allies to be displayed in the windows of participating Gardiner area businesses during the month of June.
Students reflected on the event with a variety of insights:
"Thank you for the experience and to Gardiner Area Thrives for sponsoring this."
"Art builds community and strength."
"Art isn't about skill. It is about inspiration and determination to create something beautiful."
"There are no rules to love and art."
"And one day they will remember us."
"Even in the darkest nights, love will prevail."
Fight Substance Misuse
Boys and Girls Club of the Kennebec Valley youth partner with Gardiner Area Thrives (GAT) and District Youth Coordinator (DYC) at HCCA to fight substance misuse.
When it came to planning substance misuse messaging for the fall, Gardiner Area Thrives Coalition knew it needed youth voice and engagement. Holly Jordan, Teen Center Director at Boys and Girls Club of Kennebec Valley, gathered youth to partner with Gardiner Area Thrives, to draft messaging that will make a real difference for area youth.
Youth met for three weeks, sitting down with DYC Kevin Carter to talk about how to communicate and which substances should messages be targeted toward.
Current messages were not up-to-date
Cannabis and alcohol were the two substances that were used the most in the school/community
Youth talked about ways to say no, thank you, and what suggested alternatives to using substances should be
Once we identified the top three messages the youth wanted to use, Gardiner Area Thrives went to work. The messages will be posted in the Gardiner middle and high schools this fall.