Tribal teens share passion for prevention
Rhythm and rap at heart of award-winning program
More than 70 tribal and non-tribal teens and adults from Shelton to Bellingham and Marysville to Yakima gathered last week at Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center in Stanwood for "New Directions: Tribal Youth Music Academy."
Artists from Los Angeles to Puyallup helped the teens dig deep to create poignant messages about prescription drug abuse and problem gambling prevention during the six-day academy.
Students attending the academy represented a wide array of talents, from budding poets to college students studying music.
The academy included daily addiction prevention education, music and poetry project development and nightly jam sessions.
A national-award-winning original music video, "Game Over," created by students with the guidance of Todd Denny's Gear Up with Music and Music Mentors, inspired a handful of tribal teens to ask for more.
That passion was contagious.
Anthony Fernandez of The Savage Family opened the event and it culminated with a check presentation by Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, whose office helps fund the academy.
Though the academy ended Friday, music and poetry created by the teens will live on. All student projects will be professionally recorded for distribution to the participating teens, their tribal communities, and for use on a new Web site on addiction prevention that is now in development.
The music program director, Todd Denny and his Washington Music Mentors, won a national public awareness award from the National Council on Problem Gambling in June.
"Denny does amazing work with teens," said Rhonda Stone, community education coordinator for the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling.
"He takes everyday students and transforms them into confident speakers and performers in a very short period of time. Music, poetry and prose are powerful and safe ways for teens to use their voices against a variety of addictions."
To see the award-winning problem gambling awareness video, "Game Over," visit www.evergreencpg. org.
The academy is funded in part by grants from the Washington State Attorney General's Office and Washington State's Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse to specifically address prescription drug abuse, the fastest growing form of addiction among teens, and problem gambling awareness.
A recent survey of Washington teens revealed that one-third had gambled in the past year. Other support for the program comes from the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling, as well as several Tribal Nations including the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Yakama Nation, Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Chehalis Tribe and Nisqually Indian Tribe.
For more information, contact Maureen Greeley, Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling at 360-352-6133 or Rhonda Stone, Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center, 652- 7575.