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PUBLISHED: 7:53 PM on Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Middle school students create PSA's to reach out to parents
JUNEAU - Public service announcements are often aimed at teenagers, but a new set of PSA's hitting the Juneau airwaves were actually written by them.

Molly Box's 8th grade health classes at Floyd Dryden Middle School wrote and produced four PSA's in the spring, addressing teen pregnancy and second hand smoke, and encouraging parents to be more involved in the lives of their children.

"I wish I hadn't gone to that party. I wish I hadn't taken that beer. I wish I hadn't done it before I was ready," says a young voice in the teen pregnancy PSA. "Mom, Dad? I wish you had talked to me before I changed our lives forever."

In another PSA, different girls tell where their parents think they are - going to the movies or at a sleepover - when in fact they are really "drinking behind the school" or "at Jimmy's house."

"I think in general the message that the kids were giving me was that adults ... don't hear (them)," Box said. "Any opportunity we get as educators or parents to listen to kids, they have a lot to say."

The idea for the PSA's originated in a subcommittee of the Juneau Coalition of Youth, a grassroots group of community members and professionals interested in keeping youths strong, healthy and involved in the community. The subcommittee looked at a media campaign to reach local youths and their parents.

"The general message was that we wanted kids to know that we care and that adults care about them," said committee member Ronalda Cadiente. "We landed on the idea of public service announcements. I'd been working with Molly Box through (another) initiative. Being that wonderful person that she is, she embraced the (PSA) idea."

When Box took the idea to her classes, many of her students embraced the idea right away, though others were initially more skeptical.

"I can remember a couple kids, they weren't that really into it (at first)," Box said. "(They said) 'Adults always say they want to hear from kids but they don't really want to hear from kids.'"

Some students were tempted to preach to their parents, but Box warned them against that.

"You have to make it pull on their heartstrings," Box said. "It's so easy to dismiss if it sounds whiny.'"

Box originally thought the PSA's might deal with topics like Internet safety but she let the students brainstorm and then vote on the topics.

"As soon as they know they have the power to be heard, they get really into it," Box said. "Not only did it fit in with our health topics, it was... related to real life. The kids knew that they were doing something that would be seen by the community. It's a neat opportunity."

The students who worked on each PSA were Krysty Carter (teen pregnancy PSA); Angela Wright, Marcrina Erickson (Second hand smoke); Savannah Dindinger-Hill, Lynzey Culver, Mikaela Tucker, Olivia Lihou (Do you know where your kids are?); Taylor Vidic, Ashley Dombrowski, Deborah Kasberg and Sarah McDermott (Spend time with your kids).

Listen for the PSA's on Juneau radio stations beginning soon. For more information on the Juneau Coalition for Youth visit http://www.juneau.org.


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