We are going to continue our Red Ribbon Week series today #JustOneCaringAdult.  A great way to prevent youth substance misuse is to offer care and support to the youth in your life.  Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child released a study in 2015 saying, “every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.”  All it takes is ONE CARING ADULT to change the life of a young person. We know that there are many amazing adults in the Greater Manchester Region that care about young people.  Today, Quincy a member of Makin’ It Happen’s empowerYOUTH will interview David who works as the Student Assistance Counselor (SAP) at McLaughlin Middle School in Manchester.  Here is a portion of their interview as well as two videos containing the interview:

Quincy: When and why did you decide to do the work that you’re doing right now?

David Hedge: I decided to do this work when I was a senior in high school. It took me many years to get to where I am. I went to college after high school did not finish. I then went back as an adult and started working with youth in public housing.  From there I worked with the Division for Children Youth and Families.  I was very fortunate to get into the school system to work as a Student Assistance Counselor. 

Quincy: Awesome. So what is your connection to Youth and prevention in the community today?

David Hedge Well, Makin’ It Happen reached out to the SAPs in Manchester talking about the anti-drug programs that were happening in response to the opioid issues that the area was experiencing.  So we got involved with their efforts.  Part of my job as an  SAP counselor is to work with students around drugs and alcohol, not necessarily their issues, but with concerns that they themselves have.  I just saw it as an opportunity to really get us involved in the ground floor of what’s happening right now.

Quincy: Absolutely. Would you mind telling me a little bit about your time with your job and how your job made you feel hopeful? 

Davide Hedge: Sure. Well, as I said I wanted to do this a very long time ago and now I’m in my 21st year at McLaughlin Middle School and working with the Middle School ages. I have always been hopeful with that age group. I just felt that they are an age group that really needs to have someone who is vested in their futures in letting them know that there’s somebody to rely on. To see students from where they were in the sixth grade into where they are now maybe seniors in high school. 

Quincy: Would you mind telling me about the most challenging or funny moments that you’ve experienced with us challenging?

David Hedge: I think the work is challenging because doing prevention work is essentially a full-time job. It’s a life fulfilling job in that it takes up a lot of time. The challenge of working with youth is their busy schedules.  It’s a great challenge to have because the youth that we are working with are so involved in other things in their lives and in their schools. It is sometimes difficult to get everybody together. So that’s a good challenge to have because I look at it is okay, so they’re not working with us right now, but they’re influencing others in other areas of their life. 

Quincy: What are your hopes and dreams for us? 

David Hedge: That you be true to you. Absolutely and if you’re true to you you’re going to be successful in no matter what you attempt. As long as you stay true to yourself you’re going to be successful.  Success is not defined by becoming a successful star or how many figures you make. Success is in being who you are and being happy in your life. That is the success that I want to see for everyone that is coming through a program. 

To watch the full video of their interview watch here: