ELIZABETHVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Several hundred students from middle and high schools across northern Dauphin County gathered for a Rally in the Valley event on Friday evening.
The event presented by Dauphin County Drug and Alcohol Services uses “social norming” to prevent drug and alcohol abuse among youth.
“It’s a reward for those students that aren’t using, but also it’s offering an alternative to students that may want to go out and have that party tonight, participate in risky behavior and not make the best decisions,” said Heather Crook, an event organizer.
Held at Valley Bowl lanes in Elizabethville, the event draws students from Halifax, Millersburg, Upper Dauphin and Williams Valley school districts. Activities included free bowling, pool, air hockey and outdoor activities including flag football and an inflatable jump park. Students were treated to free food by several area vendors and music from radio station WQLV-FM.
“I know plenty of people who use drugs,” said Brandon DuBois, a Williams Valley 10th grader. “I don’t like drugs and I make that clear to anybody that I hang out with. I know that sometimes kids make bad choices. I want to, I would love to help those people. I told them about this event. So far, I have seen a few of them here, which is good.”
Upper Dauphin sixth grader Cloe Dauberman saw the event as an opportunity to show that most kids her age are not using drugs or alcohol.
“Ninety-three percent of Dauphin County youth do not abuse narcotic prescriptions,” said Dauberman, reading from one of many statistical signs provided by the county and posted on walls inside and outside of the bowling alley. Other signs referenced alcohol, vaping and even online gambling as activities that students are often influenced into trying.
“Honestly, in the rural areas, there are not a lot of activities that go on,” Crook added, “so, unfortunately, kids tend to dabble in drugs. Our drug use is the same as it would be in a city school.”
Crook says kids who hang out with a small group of people who use drugs tend to believe that everyone is using drugs, “And that it’s normal.” She says it’s key to introduce those kids to other groups and activities that provide a safe “natural high.”
Dauphin County will host another similar Family Fun Day event on Saturday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Steelton-Highspire’s football field located at 250 Reynders Ave. in Steelton.