Over one hundred young people from throughout Yavapai County are speaking out against substance abuse through the "My Voice Makes a Difference" MATForce Youth Video Contest. Students from three Verde Valley schools are being honored for their statements.
MATForce, the Yavapai County Substance Abuse Coalition, recently invited area kids, ages 11 to 18, to create a video depicting how their voices make a positive difference in helping reduce drug and alcohol abuse.
In the middle school category, Jule Johnson, of West Sedona School, won first place by portraying ways youth can avoid offers of drugs. In the high school category, Bradshaw Mountain High School students Samantha Brainard and Gabriel Hernandez won first place with a video featuring a student who is offered drugs and mentally visualizes the consequences. The first place winning entries each received a $500 cash prize.
The two first place winners were selected out of thirty-three entries. Yavapai County Attorney and MATForce Co-Chair Sheila Polk said, "All the entries were excellent, making it very hard to select the winners. Our area youth have created some very powerful and important messages about the risks of substance abuse."
Second place in the middle school category went to Cottonwood Middle School students Emily Williams, JoJo McCauley, Heather Farr, Tasha Derby, Lucia Gomez, Anthony Broyles, Easton Bright, Kely Diaz, Chris Cutshaw, Elena Burmudez and Selena Romero. Second place in the high school category went to Mingus Union High School students Devon Edwards, Brice Carl, Jazzmine Kaml, Taylor Ruelas and Riley Kemper.
Third place in the middle school category was a tie. The winners were Glassford Hill Middle School students Chad Larson, Jennifer Teele, Jessica Fitzgerald, Rylie Dalpiaz, Tyler Inglehart, Dacie Clark and Kylie Morris who tied with Stepping Stones youth Ember Jones, Anthony Odom, Destiny Odom and Cori Burke. Third place in the high school category was won by Ciara Hamilton of Bradshaw Mountain High School.
MATForce would like to recognize and thank all who submitted videos, including youth from these other schools and organizations; Acorn Montessori School, American Heritage Academy, Bagdad High School, Cottonwood Middle School, Prescott Valley Charter School and County Juvenile Drug Court.
Winning video entrants will be debuted and honored at the annual MATForce Mixer on April 27. The public is invited to attend the event to help recognize these outstanding youth and learn more about how MATForce is striving to eliminate substance abuse and building healthier communities. The MATForce Mixer will be held at the Prescott Resort, in Prescott, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit the Web site www.matforce.org or find them on Facebook.