Crime Prevention Coordinator Rosanne Lee says:
Young people are every bit as dedicated to a safe community as adults, and we love to learn about the innovative efforts of youth all over the city. This year, we are pleased to present the Outstanding Youth Award to the Marshall High School SMASH group for their hard and innovative work to bring student and community awareness of the need for a healthy lifestyle and the issues around substance abuse. SMASH conducted youth and community focus groups to discuss drug abuse in their community. Then they administered a survey to theMarshall student body to ascertain whether the perception of the number of students who use marijuana was in fact valid. They discovered that contrary to the perceptions of the school the vast majority of the student body were not regular marijuana users. SMASH then took this information and created a publicity campaign at the school which proved to have a positive effect on youth behavior and led to a reduction in use and use-related school problems. A second survey six months later validated their theory.
A major project of Marshall High School SMASH was the production of a documentary video about the “Rosewood Initiative” which is an effort to build community by establishing relationships among residents, businesses, agencies,Portlandand Gresham Police and Crime Prevention as they work towards common goals of safety and livability. They filmed interviews, listened to residents’ personal stories about the impact drug activity and drug use has had on their community.
As one of their final projects this year the group held a Town Hall meeting with the Lents Neighborhood Association to discuss the issues surrounding the closing ofMarshallHigh Schooland how the community can support the families and students during this transition.
At the town hall they shared photos and stories of the many activities/events they have held to promote school spirit and pride as they faced the closing ofMarshall. As a result of the town hall the commitment of Marshall High School SMASH and Lents Neighborhood Association is stronger than ever to find a way to continue their efforts at their new schools.
The work that Marshall High School SMASH has done, with the support of their advisors from Oregon Partnership and Marshall Sun School, clearly demonstrates that we should never underestimate the potential of our youth to make a difference.