RAPID CITY | Twenty-six Newell students, along with five advisers, attending the annual Students Against Destructive Decisions Conference, Life is a Jungle, which was held at the Cedar Canyon Camp in Rapid City on March 27 and 28. Sabrina Harmon, WIT Director and SADD Advisor, was the organizer for the Newell group. The event was sponsored by the Western Prevention Resource Center, Youth and Family Services, Southeast Prevention Resource Center, Volunteers of America, Northeast Prevention Resource Center, Human Service Agency, SD Office of Highway Safety and the SD Department of Social Services, Prevention Program.
The Newell students left the school campus just after the end of second hour, traveling to Sturgis for a brief lunch and on to the camp in western Rapid City. The conference was a closed campus event with students being chaperoned from registration at 12:30 pm on Thursday to the closing ceremony at 2:30 pm on Friday.
The first day of activities included a welcome by Kristi Palmer, emcee for the event. First up to speak to the students was Cara Filler, a top Youth Motivational and Prevention speaker. She has spoken to more than two million students in over 2000 presentation in the U. S. and four other countries, sharing her personal message of losing her twin sister in a car accident due to a poor choice. She is the founder of Drive To Save Lives Tour, and the iSPOKE UP campaign. With her funny, goofy and engaging personality she shared a message that resonated with the students.
Energizer activities were lead by the different groups attending which included Douglas, Custer, Hot Springs, Stevens and Rapid City Central High Schools, Sturgis, National Guard Youth, Hill City, Lemmon, Spearfish and White River, besides the Newell group.
A speaker from the SD Highway Patrol came to share about making good choices and shared how he even made a poor choice recently and paid the price with a traffic ticket. Two different workshops presented by students included Dating 101 and Bullying. Delicious meals were provided by the camp staff.
On Friday the keynote speaker was Peni Mounga, Multicultural Affairs director for Northern State University in Aberdeen. Mounga, a Polynesian Islander originally lived in Hawaii. He shared with the students about everyday choices they make and how they can affect them for the rest of their lives. Mounga talked to them about the words "Can I Kiss You" and why you should ask. The Date Safe Project information he shared can be accessed at http://www.datesafeproject.org/do-you-ask-poster-series/.
Chapter highlights were shared by each group represented giving other groups the opportunity to learn something new, get ideas for their own groups and just share some fun. The Sheltered Reality group, including Newell's own Courtney King, closed out the conference with a great drum presentation. This group's message is presented as an opportunity to speak to the hearts of the people in the audience and encourage them to take action to help others succeed.
"It was an awesome time," said Harmon of the two-day conference. "The students were great and we had a fun time."
The Newell campus is home to both Junior and Senior High school groups. For more information on becoming a part of SADD or helping with events, contact Harmon at Sabrina.Harmon@k12.sd.us or by phone at 605-381-9136.