Program urges PPMS kids to be the difference

Published 2:02 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2018

PELHAM – During a powerful message on Friday, Oct. 26, about making good choices and overcoming obstacles, a few Pelham Park Middle School students could be seen shedding tears in the audience.

After the program presented by Conquest, a few emotional students stayed behind to talk to the young adults who make up Conquest. Conquest member Jordan Harvley said it’s common for students to share their stories and seek advice when the program ends.

“We’re in a position where we have the ability to influence kids for the better,” Harvley said. “It gives me so much joy helping broken kids because I was once that broken child. Life is too short not to live up to your fullest potential. You only get one shot at this.”

Conquest is a group that travels to area schools performing skits aimed at encouraging students to make good decisions. During the program, several Conquest members share their personal stories about overcoming obstacles. The skits performed touched on topics such as peer pressure, self-love, substance abuse and bullying.

“Conquest not only warns students about the dangers of doing drugs and drinking alcohol, but they bring such a positive message of loving yourself and others,” said PPMS principal Justin Hefner. “They encourage students to be the difference for themselves and those around them.”

Harvley shared with students how he made a conscious decision not to follow in the footsteps of his parents and brother by abusing drugs and alcohol.

“Our stories are very real,” Harvley said. “Kids need to hear our stories so that they know they’re not alone.”

Conquest member Desiree Perkins shared what life was like for her coming from a broken home and feeling unloved by both of her parents. From ages 12-18, Perkins said she experienced a deep depression. Some days after school, she said she sat in her closet cutting herself and plotting ways to take her own life. She tried to fill the voids in her life by drinking alcohol and doing drugs, but she still felt empty. She also shared the story of a high school friend who died from an accidental drug overdose.

Although it may not seem like it now, Perkins told students the decisions they make today will impact the rest of their lives. She encouraged them to speak up when they see their friends doing the wrong things.

“Be the person who says no,” she said. “Be the one who gets to make it to graduation.”

Red Ribbon Week raises awareness about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and is observed by schools across the nation. The Conquest program travelled to schools throughout Shelby County during Red Ribbon Week.

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