Engaging young people in advocacy, education & prevention
Creating social change around alcohol, drugs, and more

They said it "Straight Up"

June 10, 2010 11:39 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Written by Straight Up youth volunteer and Ventura County resident David Seemiller. David will be attending college in the fall.

Straight Up Ventura recently chose the winners for the “Say it Straight Up” writing contest for youth advocates.

The contest consisted of writing an essay which addressed subject matter such as about how alcohol affects teens and families. The contest was designed to raise awareness of underage and binge drinking and impaired driving within Ventura County. Essay submissions were required by April 30th, and the winners were notified on June 2nd.

Many of the teens wrote about their personal experiences with family members and friends that had been affected by alcohol. Those in the two age categories, 12-17 and 18-24, submitted essays that varied in subjects but all around were excellent and became very difficult to narrow down.

First place winner of the 12-17 age category, Haley Paul, composed an intense and thought provoking essay. Her writing claimed that alcohol prevention must begin early within the family while relating some of her own experience.


Straight Up Program Director Katherine Kasmir congratulates winner Haley Paul.

Paul remarked “It was a challenge writing this essay. I wanted to explore the issues of what our whole community can do and incorporate my personal experience at the same time.”

First place winner for the 18-24 age category, Emily Arndt, showed through her essay a personal recollection of her experience about being a volunteer for Straight Up. She also writes about her encounter with a troubled young person.

Arndt stated, “My encounter with someone who had drug and alcohol problems really opened my eyes. The experience made me want to make a change, especially in regards to communication with parents.”


Katherine Kasmir and Emily Arndt.

All of the entries were fantastic but Paul and Arndt were the clear winners. They showed personal experience, as well as prevention techniques. Straight Up will be holding a video contest in Fall and hold the same writing contest next year.

If you would like to become involved with Straight up and see how you can make a difference in your community, please visit www.straightupvc.org.