Classroom settings have the rare ability to change from a place of complete order to total chaos by the simple sound of a school bell. Today was no different.
I watched as the majority of the students emptied the classroom, saying their “thank you’s” as they walked towards the door. Through the flurry of students I noticed a girl lingering awkwardly near her desk. It was a familiar scene, not just because I had been working in the classrooms for sometime now, but because I saw a little of myself in that teenager. Uncertain, insecure, withdrawn… these are the words I would use to describe how I felt when I was in high school. I sensed that the girl wanted to say something to me, but she was timid, as if she was in an argument with herself whether or not to defy her reserved tendencies.
Before she could bury the matter I casually walked towards her desk and nonchalantly began a conversation with her. She said to me, “I think I need help.” She continued on to expose her most deep-seeded secrets. Buried experiences from her past came forward: sexual abuse, cutting, drug use, suicidal feelings. I was astonished by the boldness of this young girl.
While she held back her tears, she told me she was uncovering these sensitive memories for the first time. Taken aback, I tried to convert my jumbled thoughts of encouragement into practical words of support. My first thought was, “Wow, this girl has a lot of courage to disclose all of this to me.” Secondly I thought, “What on earth could I say to help in this situation?” The girl, fighting deep emotion, began to show me her scars, permanent reminders of heartrending hurt and dejection. Then it hit me like a familiar memory, the same despair that gave me suicidal aspirations as a kid was at work within this young girl.
As a presenter for Know the Truth, I can say that this girl’s reaction is not uncommon. KTT presentations, in technical terms, “combine personal stories of addiction, factual information about substance abuse, and life-skills training into each presentation. KTT presenters are culturally-competent young adults who have a demonstrated ability to learn and convey accurate information about substance abuse to a younger audience.” In other words, we’ve been through it so they listen.
If you read the KTT “Presentation Description” it will read that KTT presenters are trained to use their own personal stories to teach information about substance abuse and life-skills, such as healthy decision making and refusal techniques. By utilizing presenters with personal experience, whom the students find relatable, we are able to educate them on the negative consequences of substance abuse.
I often wonder if my childhood would have been different had I heard a KTT presentation. I can only hope that I would have had the same resolution to reach out for help as that young girl did.
Thanks for reading,
Will C. – @willray_tall – firstname.lastname@example.org