MANCHESTER, Vt. – Sept. 10 marked the beginning of the 14th year of The Collaborative’s celebrated Refuse to Use program, with around 300 individuals passing through the doors of the gym at Manchester Elementary Middle School. The program which provides a season pass to either Stratton Mountain Resort, Viking Nordic Center, or Riley Rink in exchange for 7th- through 12th-grade students who commit not to use drugs and alcohol.
The proceedings opened with The Collaborative’s executive director, Maryann Morris, thanking everyone for attending and emphasizing that the program can only succeed if everyone participates and honors their pledges equally. She also thanked the Fanny Holt Ames and Edna Louise Holt Fund for providing Refuse to Use with a three-year grant in order to improve the program’s curriculum, increase participation, and raise the program’s profile within the community. The Holt Fund seeks to help people live healthier lives and create healthy communities through prevention, health promotion, policy and research.
Morris then invited to the stage Dr. Jennifer Michaels, an assistant teacher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the medical director of the Brien Center, and a certified adult and addiction psychiatrist. Dr. Michaels addressed the science behind how drugs and alcohol can affect a growing mind and implored the students to understand that making smart, healthy choices when they are young can set them up for success later in life.
The Collaborative promotes the development of a healthy, involved community supporting substance-free youth in a caring environment. The program has long stood upon the notion that providing healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol can help create a culture of substance-free youth. This program would not be possible without our generous volunteers, Stratton Mountain Resort, Viking Nordic Center, Riley Rink, Manchester Elementary-Middle School, and the families who are committed to making our community of young individuals healthy and safe. The schools which proudly participate in this program are Manchester Elementary-Middle School, Flood Brook School, Long Trail School, Maple Street School, The Mountain School at Winhall, Arlington School, Burr and Burton Academy, and Dorset School.
If you would like further information about our programs, please visit our website, www.thecollaborative.us. Registration is open until Friday, Sept. 29.