My name is Noelle Roddam and I am a senior attending Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California. Last year, during the 2016-2017 school year, I participated in the health advocacy project, directed by the doctors of RUHS Family Medicine Residency and introduced to me through my Health Careers Academy Junior class. For this project the doctors challenged us students to define what advocacy means and to identify different types of heath disparities within our own community. Through out the entirety of this project we worked as a team to identify a community health disparity that felt the most important to us and brain stormed the different ways to solve itand how to help the people affected by it. My team made up of myself, Ricardo Sanchez, Joel Oswari, Trent Sauls, and Alex Peña, decided that we wanted to tackle to problem of marijuana abuse among the student of our high school and teens of the community.
For the foundations of our projectmy group and I studied the different health affects of marijuana on the developing brainand body and found some very shocking data. We found, through our research, that a very large population of teens around our age has or is experimenting with this popular recreational drug and that the drug itself can act as a gateway to other more lethal and serious narcotics such as heroin, cocaine and addictive prescription drugs that can lead to even further brain damage and death when taken in too large a portion. This hit myself and my group hard because these teens that we were studying were just like us and we had never realized before the effects of this drug that had always been passed off to be something used just for fun and treated in a non-serious matter. After we gathered all of this important information we designed, filmed and edited a video displaying all of it in an innovative and relatable matter that would reach out the teens similar to our age and younger. Our goal was the accurately display all of the possible negative effects associated with marijuana itself so that people could understand why they should avoid it. Our completed video included a list of the effects of marijuana, a plot and characters that mirrored marijuana in everyday life, a description of the controversial Proposition 64 that was being discussed and voted on during the time of the project, and statistics and percentages representing the chances of addiction to other more lethal drugs stemmed from use of marijuana. Designing the video and showing it to my class was by far my favorite part because it showed me that we had the power to spread awareness on this very important subject. This project helped me to gain confidence in my voice as a teen in my community and helped me to gain strength in my in my ability to make change for better community health and happiness.