National Prevention Week 2014 is right around the corner: May 18-24. To gear up for it, we asked teens to share why it’s important to them to avoid, and help prevent substance abuse. Keep reading to learn what Jamison had to say about the choices he’s faced.
At the dining room table on a Monday evening, my fingers are at a laptop, my ears are in my iPod, and my eyes are out the window. I’m watching my little sister, Ava, laughing and jumping rope and gossiping with the other sixth-graders from the neighborhood.
My smile fades as my eyes drift back to the screen.
National Prevention Week is approaching, bringing awareness to real issues facing teens. Real social problems that are becoming too common. Real choices that affect me every day. I’m thinking about the choices that have shaped my life.
I’ve always striven to make the right choices, and it hasn’t always been easy. I said “No” to the cigarette peeking from my friend’s tightly clenched fingers, I said “No” to the invite to the drinking party, I said “No” to getting high.
And now I finally realize why I’ve made these decisions. Instead of choosing the cigarette, instead of choosing the booze, instead of choosing the pot, I choose Ava.
It’s hard to be a teenager. We’re learning hard truths about the world, truths about society, about friendship, about hypocrites we’re supposed to look up to, about relationships, about ourselves. Add to that the potent mix of a constant fear of rejection and the ability to stay connected to our peers around the clock, and you realize that it’s a sobering time of life. So it’s hard to say “No” when someone tells you that one swig, that one drag, that one pill can make it all go away for a few hours.
But when I find myself caught between two difficult choices, my choice is easy: I choose Ava.
I look at the bottle of vodka, and I see Ava holding it, and I say “No.”
I look at the rolled paper, and I see it in Ava’s mouth, and I say “No.”
I look at the Ziploc bag of Xanax, and I see it hidden in Ava’s purse, and I say “No.”
Ava looks up to me, and I know that every decision I make will eventually get back to her. I am her role model, and we, as the teenage generation, have had too many “role models” that have led us astray. Ava deserves better.
I make the right choices because I am Ava’s guide through the hallways of life, and I have the responsibility to motivate her to make the right choices and to get help if she needs it.
Why do I choose to live Above the Influence? Why am I devoted to National Prevention Week? Why am I involved in initiatives like Aevidum and the National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide? Why do I want to make the hard, but right choices throughout my life?
Because Ava’s jumping rope with her friends in the front yard, the world in front of her, and I want her to know, when she is faced with tough choices in adolescence, that her brother is right inside, watching over her.
Every day, I choose Ava.