The Above the Influence campaign is a program of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The campaign was, and continues to be inspired by what kids have told about their lives, and how they deal with the influences that shape their decisions. WaylandCares recently introduced the Above the Influence program at the Wayland elementary schools. Director, Jason Verhoosky, challenged the kids to think about about peer pressure and how easy it is to be influenced by others. He lead the students in a few simple exercises to illustrate the power of decision making. Jason continued with talking about how important it is to pursue their passions and the positive things in their lives.

The students were presented with a blank “Above the Influence” logo, simply a circle with an arrow pointing up. Many of the students filled the logo in with their passions which will help them stay above the influence.

The goal is to help teens stand up to negative pressures, or influences. The more aware you are of the influences around you, the better prepared you will be to face them, including the pressure to use drugs and alcohol. Every teen’s life is filled with pressure, some of it good, some of it bad. The truth is, we all influence and are influenced by so many factors. You can be one thing online and still be kind of different in person. You can be someone to look up to, and know what it feels like to get rejected. You can be righteous in your decisions and still slip up and make mistakes. But, with so many versions of yourself, it’s easy to forget the one thing that keeps you real – the pure-grade, original first edition of yourself.

While you’re a teen (and even into your early 20’s!), you’re still growing and developing, and drug abuse during these years in particular can have a lasting impact. Another fact to consider: the brain is much more vulnerable to addiction during these years. 90% of Americans with a substance abuse problem started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18.

We are proud of all the kids who participated in this campaign. WaylandCares is a community coalition encouraging families to make healthy decisions in Wayland, MA. We believe it is the collective responsibility of the community to create a safe environment for our young people, and to support healthy youth decision-making.

Top winners for the Above the influence campaign completed by Wayland Elementary children.

Lower School student Hallie Luo (grade 5)

The Giving Tree by Sujitra, Grade 4 & Maeref Million, Grade 2 Happy Hollow

Peace by John Chausse, Grade 4 and Ian Ferreira, Grade 2 Happy Hollow

Above the Influence by Mia Ureta, Grade 4 Happy Hollow

Love by Ashlyn Thomas, Grade 3 Loker

Flower by Abigail Wrentmore, Grade 5 Loker

Stay Above by Hallie Luo, Grade 5 Loker

The Question by Arianna Martinez Cavero, Grade 5 Claypit Hill

Bad things to be fixed by Alex Bell, Grade 5 Claypit Hill

Stay Above by Grant Larsen, Grade 5 Claypit Hill