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Virtual We Are The Majority Rally Raises Awareness of Youth Resiliency, Healthy Choices

Virtual We Are The Majority Rally Raises Awareness of Youth Resiliency, Healthy Choices

PR Newswire

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of youth tuned into the Virtual We Are The Majority Rally Friday to celebrate their commitment to making healthy choices and building resiliency even in the face of COVID-19.

The We Are The Majority Rally, now in its ninth year, typically brings thousands of teens from across Ohio to downtown Columbus. There, they march to celebrate and raise awareness about the fact that the majority of youth do not use drugs or alcohol. This year, the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network (OYLPN) at Prevention Action Alliance made the event virtual to combat the spread of COVID-19 while still celebrating youth resiliency.

The teens who watched the rally were joined by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services Director Lori Criss, the rock band and mental health advocates Pray for Sleep, The Paragon Project from Columbus' Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, and hip hop fitness instructor and owner of Phlex Fitness Michael Nicholson.

PAA Executive Director Marcie Seidel said continuing with the rally was important to promote the health and wellness of young people.

"This rally celebrates youth for making healthy choices, which is something they need to hear now more than ever," said Seidel. "This pandemic threatens their mental health through isolation, anxiety and depression, and it makes many coping mechanisms—sports, socializing or school—unsafe to use."

"This rally helped bring together young people, gave them an online opportunity to interact with others and shared coping skills and strategies they can use to protect themselves during these difficult times," Seidel continued.

Teen members of the OYLPN Youth Council shared messages of hope with those watching the rally. One Youth Council member, Jade Eilers, hosted the rally live, engaging with youth online and on screen.

"Many people misuse drugs because they want to feel better or they don't want to feel anything at all. A lot of that stems from mental health issues and lack of value seen within ourselves," said Eilers during the rally. "When people understand and learn how to respect and value their selves, they treat others better and make healthier choices because it's what they think they deserve."

Eilers is also Miss Ohio High School America, a platform she uses to advocate for prevention.

In pre-recorded segments run during the event, DeWine and Criss congratulated youth for their resiliency, encouraged them to take care of themselves, and answered questions put forward in advance by youth from across Ohio.

"As we navigate this worldwide health crisis and its impact on each of our families and communities, we know that Ohio's youth are keeping us strong and moving us forward," said Criss, who encouraged teens to help neighbors or relatives with errands and using virtual communications.

"While we can't be all together physically this year, please know that I am with you in spirit. I support you, and I'm proud of you for standing up to be counted as drug free," said DeWine.

In his closing statement, DeWine shared a final message of hope.

"I believe that when we get through this, we'll be stronger," said DeWine. "But we're showing our resilient spirit as Ohioans. We're trying to prove to ourselves really what we're made of. As we go through this, Ohioans are strong. We're going to demonstrate that the sun is out. The sun will shine again, and we'll get through this."

Cision View original content to download multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/virtual-we-are-the-majority-rally-raises-awareness-of-youth-resiliency-healthy-choices-301065281.html

SOURCE Prevention Action Alliance

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