Natural High vs. Peer Pressure

A couple weeks ago, Allura Garis, the Youth Engagement Coordinator over at Natural High, asked me to write a back-to-school post about rising above peer pressure by pledging and choosing your natural high. Why would someone choose a natural high and reject alcohol and drugs when it seems like everyone else around him or her is doing just the opposite? After much thought, only one main reason stood out to me: because a natural high is something that truly makes you happy and will always be worth more than any drug or alcohol. It’s really that simple. Everyone wants to be happy, yet many fail to realize that their misery and unhappiness often comes from drinking, doing drugs, and the consequences that follow. They think that the short-term euphoric effect that drugs and alcohol give is what they need to be happy when in reality, a natural high provides lasting happiness without the damaging effects.

Throughout my life, I’ve realized that one of the ways I used to get me through the difficult times in school and withstand the peer pressure to give in to drugs and alcohol was one of my natural highs, music. I found myself keeping busy with concerts, helping out with promotions for bands, and discovering new music regularly. And it was something that I truly loved and enjoyed. I never had a desire to do drugs or alcohol because I felt like I found something in my life that mattered. During the hard times when close friends decided to head down that path and other discouraging life events, I listened to music that I could relate to. That was my way of dealing with the pain and all the emotions that come with being a teenager and something that I do even to this day. No matter how hard it was to stay drug- and alcohol-free during my teenager years, I made it through and am grateful for being able to do so. I know that my life would be so different now if I had given in to the peer pressure and just accepted the drugs and alcohol. Now that I’m in college and legally allowed to drink, I have actually found it to be just as difficult now as it was in high school. I can no longer use the excuse “Oh, I’m not old enough to drink yet, thanks but no thanks” and instead, have to really stand firm and be able to explain why I choose not to drink or do drugs. I have also learned that the friends who don’t pressure you into drinking or doing drugs when you don’t want to are the friends you need to keep for the rest of your life. Those who are true friends will respect your decision and help you stand with it. You will even begin to realize that people will respect you even more for staying true to your beliefs.

So, as the new school year begins, take some time to sit down and just think about what truly makes your life fulfilling and worth living for. Are alcohol and drugs really worth throwing away your future, your dreams, your life? Figure out what honestly makes you happy and have good friends who are willing to stand up for you and your beliefs, even if they don’t choose to be drug- or alcohol-free. Plan activities that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. Volunteer your free time at a local charity. Spend time with your family and your loved ones. Create art. Learn a new skill or hobby. Explore the outdoors. Go on a road trip with friends. Engage in your natural high and share it with others. This world has so much more to offer than just drugs and alcohol. Don’t even waste one second experimenting with these deadly substances that could destroy the rest of your life. You will never be able to take back a mistake, and you will never be able to ignore the devastating consequences that follow. Rising above peer pressure and standing up for your beliefs has never been easy. I’ve already been there countless of times, and it will always be a continuous battle. But I can promise that it has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself and will continue to do.

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Protests Against the Ringling Brothers in Salt Lake City, UT

The Ringling Brothers are coming to Salt Lake City, UT, this Thursday, September 22nd, until Sunday, September 25th, and the nonprofit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is asking you to come and join the protest against the circus with them! The protests will be held one and a half hours before each show every day, right in front of the Energy Solutions Arena at the intersection of South Temple and 300 West. The opening-day protest will be held on Thursday, September 22nd, from 11:45 AM until 1:00 PM, and the opening-night protest will take place later that day from 5:15 PM until 7:00 PM. Visit the official Facebook page for the rest of the times and dates. Come be the voice for the voiceless!

The Ringling Brothers brutally treat their baby elephants by shocking them with electric prods, striking them with sharp hooks, and slamming them to the ground. These elephants are bound tightly by ropes and forced into unnatural and difficult positions in order to learn circus tricks. Former Ringling Brothers employees have admitted that there is a “culture of abuse at the circus” and that the elephants are chained up for the majority of their lives (Elephant Mistreatment at Ringling Brothers). The Ringling Brothers have been charged multiple times for violating the Animal Welfare Act after more than four of their baby elephants died. Find out more about the mistreatment and pain that the Ringling Bros. inflict on their animals here.

HELP International

HELP International originally started as H.E.L.P. Honduras in 1999 when Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras. To relieve the suffering there, a group of 46 volunteers from Brigham Young University’s students and faculty raised over $115,000 and spent four months conducting humanitarian work and administering microcredit loans in Honduras. Those volunteers were able to serve approximately 4,000 people and help change their lives for the better. The organization has grown significantly since and now conducts various projects, such as building adobe stoves and teaching family gardening and English. The organization currently works in Belize, El Salvador, Fiji, India, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand, and Uganda. Each summer, a group of volunteers are sent to one of these countries to construct development projects and teach the people there how they can help themselves improve their lives. HELP International’s mission is to “empower people to fight global poverty through sustainable, life-changing development programs.”

Since April, I have been helping HELP International with fundraising for my nonprofit fundraising class. One of our projects is to help a nonprofit fundraise, and my group and I have been planning this concert for the past month and a half. The show is this Saturday, June 11th, at the Deathstar in Provo, UT, on 145 N. University Avenue. Doors open at 7 PM and the show starts at 7:30 PM. Tickets are only $5 and all proceeds will go to the organization. We have Dream Eater, Clay Summers, j.wride, and Double or Nothing playing, and they are all quite talented musicians so please come out and support local music and this great cause! You will not be disappointed, I guarantee it. BYU Weekly TV will also be there to film the show, so if you want to be on TV, then come to the show!

To learn more about HELP International and how you can travel abroad with them to fight poverty, visit their website online. 

Paramore + TWLOHA

Paramore is a rock band that formed in 2004 in Franklin, TN. The band is currently signed to the record label Fueled by Ramen, and consists of lead singer Hayley Williams, bassist Jeremy Davis, and guitarist Taylor York. Paramore has released three studio full-length albums, three EPs, two live albums, fourteen singles, one video album, and thirteen music videos. Their second studio album, Riot!, was what made the band famous and ranked #15 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The band will be touring in the Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Spain, Hong Kong, and Indonesia this summer, and will be on the Vans Warped Tour from mid-July to the beginning of August.

Since the beginning, Paramore has been huge supporters of the nonprofit organization To Write Love on Her Arms, particularly Hayley Williams (you can read my post about TWLOHA here). Her picture was even on one of the promo cards for To Write Love on Her Arms (view the photo here), and the promo cards were attached to the shirts that were sold. The band is often seen wearing the organization’s shirts at their shows, and even collaborated with To Write Love on Her Arms on a shirt; the shirt has the lyrics of their song “We are Broken” printed on the inside, and can be purchased here. In 2008, the members of Paramore appeared in To Write Love on Her Arm’s suicide announcement.

If you or someone you know is depressed and/or is thinking about suicide, please call Hopeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) immediately.

Blacklist

Blacklist is an anti-tobacco campaign in Omaha, NE, and Salt Lake City, UT, that is funded through grant money from the state. The campaign held its first event in Salt Lake City in November 2010, but it wasn’t until February 1, 2011, at a Haste the Day show, that the campaign officially started promoting its message. The campaign then started in Omaha in March of 2011. Blacklist’s purpose is to fight against the tobacco industry, not necessarily the smoker, because of its destruction of our environment, our civil rights, our health, and our culture. The Black Listers are part of a movement against the manipulation of the tobacco industry and the damage it does to our world. They aim to educate others about the dangers and destructive effects of tobacco, and to encourage them to join the movement against the tobacco industry and support a smoke-free scene. Blacklist hosts shows and events in an effort to promote a smoke-free scene, particularly the music scene. By informing people at the shows and on the streets about the damage that the tobacco industry inflicts, the Black Listers hope to change the main focus to the arts and music instead of smoking.

I first heard of Blacklist when I went to the Gamechangers Tour 2011 featuring Pierce the Veil, Bring Me the Horizon, A Day to Remember, and We Came as Romans back in March (one of the greatest shows ever, by the way). The Black Listers had a booth at the show and were promoting their message to hundreds of kids that night. They encouraged people to sign up for their newspapers and passed out flyers, posters, guitar pick necklaces, and little cards educating the youth about the dangers of smoking hookah; they even had a photographer and a backdrop set up so the concert attendees who were interested in what Blacklist was about could take pictures against it. I was excited to see that there was another nonprofit organization working in the music scene that was advocating for a smoke-free scene. Having been a part of the music scene for quite some time now, I have noticed that the music scene just seems to go hand-in-hand with alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. It was wonderful to see that there are other people who believe otherwise and are trying to make a difference in the music scene and to create a positive influence on the scene. Since that night, I have been following Blacklist on Facebook in order to get involved in their work and to see what they are doing to make the music scene smoke-free. It has been great to be able to connect with like-minded individuals who believe in the same cause and are working towards a smoke-free future.

To learn more about Blacklist or read facts about tobacco and how it is destroying our world, visit the Black Listers online or go to their Facebook page to get involved and see upcoming shows in the Salt Lake City and/or Omaha areas.

We support a smoke-free scene…..do you?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a nonprofit based out of Irving, TX, that was formed in 1980 by Candice Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Its mission is “to aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims, and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving.” The organization basically aims to stop drunk driving, support those who have been affected by drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and advocate for a stricter alcohol policy. Throughout the years, the mission and focus of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has expanded; the organization itself has also grown tremendously. Today, there is a MADD Canada that was founded in 1990, an “Eight-Point Plan” that was introduced in 2002, and the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving that was started in November 2006.

MADD Canada is the Canadian arm of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Its purpose is to stop impaired driving and to support victims by holding public awareness and education programs, campaigns, and fundraisers that focus on stopping impaired driving.  The “Eight-Point Plan” is comprised of eight points: resuscitate the nation’s efforts to prevent impaired driving, increase driving while intoxicated (DWI)/driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement (especially the use of frequent, highly publicized sobriety checkpoints), enact primary enforcement seat belt laws in all states, create tougher and more comprehensive sanctions geared toward higher-risk drivers, develop a dedicated National Traffic Safety Fund, reduce underage drinking, increase beer excise taxes to the same level as those for spirits, and reinvigorate court monitoring programs. The Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving is a four-point plan that aims to completely eliminate drunk driving in the United States by using a combination of current technology, new technology in smart cars, law enforcement, and grass roots activism.

Drunk driving is something that is so deadly yet easily preventable. When I was home in CA this past weekend, there was a drunk driving accident on a street near my neighborhood. A parent was driving two 14-year-old girls and two 15-year-old girls home after a birthday party around 1:15 AM on Sunday morning, May 29th, when a Toyota pickup truck crashed into their Mercedes Benz. The accident left one of the 14-year-old girls dead and another one of the 15-year-old girls critically injured in the hospital; the drunk driver and his passenger walked away from the accident uninjured. The other two girls and the parent were also sent to the hospital but have since been released. So please, next time you are in a situation that involves drunk driving, think twice before you drive drunk or get into a car with a drunk driver. That decision could drastically change your life forever.

To learn more about Mothers Against Drunk Driving, visit them online or go to their Facebook page.

Jason Wade of the band Lifehouse wrote the song “From Where You Are” for Allstate’s Teen Driving Program. This song is dedicated to all those teens who have lost their lives in car accidents and to Jason’s friend who died in a car crash at age 16. It is also used to educate teens about safe driving.

From Where You Are by Lifehouse
So far away from where you are
These miles have torn us worlds apart
And I miss you, yeah I miss you

So far away from where you are
I’m standing underneath the stars
And I wish you were here

I miss the years that were erased
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face
I miss all the little things
I never thought that they’d mean everything to me
Yeah I miss you
And I wish you were here

I feel the beating of your heart
I see the shadows of your face
Just know that wherever you are
Yeah I miss you
And I wish you were here

I miss the years that were erased
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face
I miss all the little things
I never thought that they’d mean everything to me
Yeah I miss you
And I wish you were here

So far away from where you are
These miles have torn us worlds apart
And I miss you, yeah I miss you
And I wish you were here

To listen to more of Lifehouse’s music, visit their Facebook page.

Take the Natural High Pledge

On the morning of Tuesday, May 17th, 2011, more than 80% of Rancho Buena Vista High School’s 3,000 students stood up and took the pledge to live naturally high. Megan Hastings, Natural High’s summer intern, suggested the idea of a Natural High Pledge after being inspired by Seventeen‘s Body Peace Treaty Pledge. Michelle Ahearne, executive director of Natural High, and Allura Garis, youth marketing associate of Natural High, were fascinated by the idea and immediately put their plans into action. The pledge would give the youth a chance to take action and be directly involved in the cause. The first ever Natural High Pledge was held on that day, and Rancho Buena Vista High School became the first school to have the Natural High Club, founded by Mitch Medrano, with Jenna Glazier as the president. The high school even proclaimed May 17th to be “Natural High Day”.

The day started with the students alternating between watching the Natural High 4 DVD Series and attending an assembly. The Natural High 4 DVD Series features the band Relient K, professional skater Paul Rodriguez, Jr., NBA player Mike Conley, Jr., professional surfer and musician Timmy Curran, and many more. The DVD shows the youth how they can live up to their potentials and achieve their goals without the use of drugs and alcohol, and was distributed to every middle school in the United States in September 2009. The assembly began with speakers Chelsie Hill, a Pacific Grove High School student who got into the car with a drunk driver and is now paralyzed from the waist down, and Aaron Rubin, a 27-year-old who overdosed on oxycontin and can no longer walk nor talk (watch Hill’s interview about her accident here, and watch Rubin’s story here). At the end of the assembly, Natural High Club president Jenna Glazier asked the students of Rancho Buena Vista High School to stand up if they wanted to pledge to live naturally high, and more than 80% of the students did so. 20 students were filmed by Natural High’s filmmaker Josh Landan, pledging on camera to live naturally high. These students will potentially be featured in the next video, Natural High 5 DVD Series; this video will also feature the band Hey Monday and fashion designer and actress Lauren Conrad.

Take the pledge to live naturally high, to live a life without drugs and alcohol. “Together, we are not alone. Together, we are the uprising generation. Together, we can be the movement.”

Natural High is currently working on making the Natural High Pledge virtual so that those who want to sign it can do so online. The pledge will also be available at the following Vans Warped Tour dates: Pomona, CA (July 1st), Ventura, CA (July 3rd), San Diego, CA (August 9th), and Carson, CA (August 10th). To learn more about Natural High, visit their website online or go to their Facebook page.