BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Boardman High School Emerging Leaders club usually holds the YES Fest every year to talk with students about saying yes to things in their lives other than drugs.
They couldn’t host the event this year because of the pandemic but didn’t want to lose the chance to teach the Yes Fest message, so they did something a little different.
In the Boardman High School library, you’ll find all sorts of book titles from fiction to non-fiction.
Soon, 50 more books will be added, all of them dealing with addiction. It’s a topic too many kids are familiar with, either at home or in their neighborhoods.
The Emerging Leaders Club at Boardman High School teamed up with their advisor, Dana Safarek, to get a grant to buy the books.
“The need didn’t go away on the topic of addiction, so our group got together, and we decided what can we do to give back to those students and help those that are struggling, and that’s when we decided to apply for the grant,” Safarek said. “I think it’s important for students to see themselves reflected in literature, so some of the books have families that are dealing with addiction so a kid can read it and feel hey, I am not alone.”
Safarek applied for the Herren Project Grant. Boardman was one of just 10 schools in the country chosen to win the $500. Part of the reason they won was because of their work with a local recovery program.
“We did a project earlier in the year where we donated some books to Broadway Recovery Services, and we took Governor DeWine’s pledge in ending the stigma of addiction,” Safarek said. “I just really saw how connected they were to the topic and how many of them had personal connections and wanted to give back in some way.”
And for the students in the Emerging Leaders group, they wanted to help be a voice for their classmates and let them know if they know someone in their lives struggling with addiction, they’re not alone.
“I think books can be very educational in ways to maybe help and not necessarily relate but understand people who are going through that and your friends who are going through that. I think that’s really nice to have,” said Kara Eliser, president of Boardman High School Emerging Leaders.
The students helped pick out the book titles. Some of the books will go in the library and some in the classrooms.