Goals and dreams empower Sophia Henry to make healthy choices
By Janne Siegel
BROUGHT TO YOU BY HEALTHY FUTURES INITIATIVE
Strength, resolve, her love of nature and a commitment to her future keep 15-year -old Sophia Henry, a Summit High School sophomore, away from drugs and alcohol, a lifestyle choice she shares with others through her work as a member of the Youth Empowerment Society of Summit (Y.E.S.S.) coalition.
Y.E.S.S. is part of the Summit County Communities That Care (“CTC”) program, which works to prevent youth substance abuse in Summit County. The youth coalition is comprised of a group of young people who volunteer to provide input, participate in workgroups and share youth perspectives on local substance abuse prevention strategies.
“I feel like it is a great opportunity to reach out to my community, and I definitely feel like drugs and alcohol are an issue with Summit County youth. And I would like to do everything I can to reduce the use of substances,” Sophia said. “I like being involved in my community and knowing that even though I am 15, my voice still has the power to make a change.”
Commitment to her goals
Sophia’s dedication to academics and a healthy lifestyle drive her decision to remain alcohol- and drug-free. Having skied her whole life, racing for Team Summit Colorado and Loveland Ski Club, she is now a member of the Summit High ski team and a ski apprentice at Loveland ski area with her mother and younger brother. She also enjoys rock climbing, rafting with her family, hiking with friends and simply being out in nature.
In addition to her love of playing outside in Summit County, Sophia says she is most proud of her academic achievements and her hard work as a student. Her goal is to attend the U. S. Military Academy. She has received several academic awards and been on the gold and silver honor rolls in middle school and high school.
Sophia said she knows the use of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs would jeopardize her chances to attend West Point and impair her overall ability to perform at her full potential, whether skiing, studying, or being a productive member of her community.
“I would like to go to West Point and be a field surgeon in the Army. The military has some pretty strict drug and alcohol policies. To get there, if they see any criminal record, you are not going to get in,” she said. “Also, a lot of what leads me to do what I do is that motivation to lead a good, reputable life where I feel like I am doing good for the world and where people can see I am doing good for the world.”
Peer Pressure and Prevention
Sophia said that while she feels drugs and alcohol are an issue with Summit County youth, she has not experienced peer pressure to partake. She said that even when in situations where others are drinking or using drugs, her choice to say no was respected.
“Personally, I have not experienced a lot of peer pressure. I’d say the few times that I have, people are pretty accepting of my saying no,” she said. “If you say no, they say ‘OK, I understand, I’m not going to make you do this.’ But that’s my personal experience.”
Sophia noted that it can be difficult in today’s society with such ready access to alcohol and other drugs to say, “I am never going to drink or use drugs.” However, she said it’s important to understand that even if a young person makes mistakes, it does not have to determine a course for life. She firmly believes in a person’s ability to make healthier choices going forward.
“Realizing even if you do something once or a couple of times, that doesn’t determine everything, and you can still make changes and turn your life around,” she said. “You can go back and reflect on what you have done, and make changes to improve your future. Each day is a new day and the start of a new future.”
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