I interviewed Jan Withers of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and I thought it would be cool to interview somebody from a different organization that works on some of the same issues. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) is a pretty cool organization. This interview is with Deanna Boucher, the Chair of the SADD Student Leadership Council.
PMAKid: What is SADD? What does SADD do? Can you tell me about the history of it and how it has changed over the years?
Deanna: SADD stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions. We are based mostly in high schools and middle schools across the country, and we work to prevent, educate, and advocate against the destructive decisions teens face. We were founded in 1981 as Students Against Driving Drunk in Wayland, Massachusetts after two teen tragedies. In 1997, the students in SADD decided that teens face many more issues than just driving drunk, so SADD expanded its mission. Over the past 30 years, we have grown to be the nation’s leading peer-to-peer advocacy organization. We have found that when students talk to students, results happen.
We have about 10,000 chapters and over 300,000 students, each and every one caring about keeping teens safe. SADD chapters cover issues like alcohol and drug use, impaired and distracted driving, violence, tobacco use, suicide, and anything else they decide affects their school and community. Chapters plan and run events, activities, and assemblies to introduce and bring awareness to these issues. SADD is a place where students can feel confident in their decision to stay above the influence and live a healthy, happy lifestyle.
PMAKid: How did you get involved in SADD? What do you do as a part of the organization? What is the SADD National Student of the Year?
Deanna: I started getting involved with SADD during my freshman year of high school. I became the secretary of my chapter, and then in my sophomore year, I was chosen to be part of the Massaschusetts SADD Student Advisory Board. In my junior year, I became the co-president of the chapter. Going into my senior year, I was chosen to be on the SADD National Student Leadership Council, and then this past year, I’ve served as the SADD National Student of the Year. As the Student of the Year, I serve as the youth spokesperson for the organization. I represent SADD at conferences and on task forces. I am also a member of the SADD National Board of Directors.
However, my biggest job is being the chairperson of the SADD National Student Leadership Council. We’re a group of eight to ten students from across the country who serve as the youth voice in SADD National. We provide feedback on new project and campaign ideas, help run the SADD National Facebook and Twitter pages, and offer ideas on what teens are facing in their lives. Our biggest project is to help SADD National run their annual National Conference, held every year in the summer. All that we do is super rewarding, and we all love doing it. It’s an incredible experience.
PMAKid: At school and other places we learn about peer pressure and how to make good choices. My friend Aram Arslanian has his own record label and a couple of the shirts he sells are "PPP" for Positive Peer Pressure. I have the "Don't Need Drugs" shirt and they also sell a "It's Okay Not To Drink" t-shirt. I think positive peer pressure is really cool. What do you think?
Deanna: I think that’s great! Positive peer pressure usually works really well! Many people refuse to listen when you tell them not to do something, but if you’re telling them things that they can do (like “It’s Okay Not To Drink”), they will usually listen!
I like to ask a lot of people the following questions:
PMAKid: What are your three favorite books and why?
Deanna: This is such a hard question because I absolutely love reading! If I had to choose, I’d probably say Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom because it taught me so many good life lessons and taught me to appreciate life, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury because I’m a huge Sci-Fi fan and it has a great message about the importance of books and learning, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, because its such a mind-opener and it introduces different ways to look at life.
PMAKid: What are your three favorite songs and why?
Deanna: I’m not even sure I’m able to choose my favorite songs, but I can give you three that I tend to find myself listening to! I love “Movie Loves a Screen,” by April Smith and the Great Picture Show because it’s just a very happy song. I also love “Drops of Jupiter,” by Train; I’m not even sure why anymore, but it’s been my favorite song since the start! I think my third favorite would be “The Girl,” by City and Colour because it’s such a great song and it reminds me of my boyfriend.
PMAKid: Have you known anybody who was badly hit with problems because of drugs or alcohol? Maybe they were doing them or their friends or family...maybe the mom and dad across the street got into drugs and it tore apart their family. How do you deal with people that you know that do drink or use drugs?
Deanna: That is always a very difficult thing to handle. I have known some people who have had problems, and it is difficult to watch. When I run into something like this, all I can do is be supportive. People like that have serious problems, and they aren’t things I can fix, as much as I’d like to. I make sure that I don’t isolate them, but I typically choose not to be around them if they are using those things in my presence. I always make sure I’m there for them, though, if they want someone to talk to or if they want help.
PMAKid: I asked Jan Withers (the President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving) the following question, and I am interested in your answer too:
"The kind of music I listen to is really loud and a lot of people don't like it. It is called Straight Edge Hardcore and one of the things about it is to make a personal commitment to stay away from drugs and alcohol. I know some people think that it is stupid to stay away from these things, especially alcohol. Bullies make fun of people that make this commitment. I think that is totally stupid, but I can't change some idiot's mind if they want to make fun of people who don't drink. What can people who don't like straight edge music do to stay away from drugs and alcohol?"
Deanna: There are so many things people can do to stay away from drugs and alcohol! Really, just finding anything else to keep your interests! It’s like the “Anti-Drug Campaign.” For example, my anti-drug is dance, yours is straight edge music! If a person finds something that they love and that they chose to do instead of drugs and alcohol, that’s great!
PMAKid: What is the weirdest thing you have ever seen?
Ms Deanna: What a unique question! Although I’ve seen some pretty weird things, the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen probably happened last summer. When I’m home from college during the summer or on breaks, I work at a local ice cream stand. One day at work, my best friend came running over to me, super excited, and told me to look at the customer she was serving. When I looked over, I saw two clowns and a yellow lab clown dog, and they were getting their ice cream, all dressed up in their clown outfits. The dog even got a small vanilla ice cream! What a sight; I couldn't help but smile!