17-Year-Old Uses Peer Pressure To Influence Youth To Live Naturally High

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When most people hear the words “peer pressure”, they immediately think of teens influencing one another to make destructive decisions. Yet not all peer pressure is bad, and 17-year-old Megan Hastings is proving it with the “I Pledge to Live Naturally High” Campaign. On Friday, October 28th, Megan will take the pledge at Muirlands Middle School in La Jolla, California. Her and pop-sensation Cassadee Pope will stand together in front of thousands of youth to preview Natural High 5 and promote living Naturally High.

Megan Hastings, 17, Creator of the "I Pledge To Live Naturally High" Campaign

I believe if a teen can see that they are not alone and there is an entire movement of people choosing to live Naturally High, they will pledge to do the same and be strengthened in their decision to live drug free.

Created for youth by youth, the “I Pledge to Live Naturally High” Campaign is taking the country by storm. On Friday, October 28th at Muirlands Middle School, Megan and Cassadee Pope, lead singer of Hey Monday and star of Natural High 5, will Pledge to live Naturally High. Together they will stand, drug-free and proud, in front of thousands of youth to preview Natural High 5 and promote living Naturally High.

The campaign centers around a growing number of teens who have made the decision to pursue their Natural Highs- passions that make them happy and confident- and reject drugs. The pledge has appeared at local schools, events, and the Southern California Vans Warped Tour shows, where youth went wild for the T-shirts, wristbands, and stickers emblazoned with the message. “My original goal for the campaign was to have 1,000 teens pledge to live Naturally High,” says Megan Hastings, the 17-year-old who generated the idea. “And even before the site was up and running, my goal had already been shattered; today, over 13,000 signatures have been collected on ‘I Pledge to Live Naturally High’ banners displayed at high schools and events, as well as people who have pledged from Natural High’s homepage!”

Hastings has been involved with Natural High®, the organization supporting the campaign, since she was a freshman in high school. She started out writing articles for the student newsletter and, as time permitted, helped with various other projects. Yet her involvement with Natural High® was not always something she wanted her peers to know about. “When I was younger I was insecure in publicizing that I lived Naturally High. I felt that I was the only one who rejected drugs, and I was not brave enough to declare it on my own,” Hastings shared. “My own experiences as a freshman led to my idea for the Natural High Pledge Campaign. I believe if a teen can see that they are not alone and there is an entire movement of people choosing to live Naturally High, they will pledge to do the same and be strengthened in their decision to live drug free.”

Now in her senior year, Hastings has become more confident in herself and the work she is doing with Natural High®. “As I've grown older, I've realized that drug users are by no means the majority of teens; there are just as many teens who live Naturally High too,” said Hastings. She now wants to share her perspective with everyone, to spare others the fear that she once felt, and the time that lapsed before she was ready to let others know her real stance. “I finally told my friends that I am involved with Natural High® because I knew true friends would respect me for it. Most of my friends thought it was awesome and wanted to get involved, too—and all of them definitely still accept me,” Hastings exclaimed.

Hastings’ natural highs include soccer, volleyball, friends, family, writing, photography, reading, and even school. Yet, although these keep her busy and free of consequences that come from drugs, Hastings also has a concern for those making the opposite choice. “While drug users do not constitute the majority of teens, I have been surprised to see the quantity of people that use drugs ‘casually’ without realizing how it is changing their lives. Many of the people I know smoke weed and think it's no big deal, but they don't even realize their dependence on it. The same goes as far as drinking is concerned; I am continually surprised by the nonchalance that teens have towards binge drinking, even when they are habitually getting wasted every weekend,” Hastings shared. She hopes the “I Pledge to Live Naturally High” Campaign will impact and encourage this demographic as well, showing them that there is another choice.

At a Drug Awareness Assembly at Rancho Buena Vista High School last May, this hope might have been realized. After guest speakers Chelsie Hill and Aaron Rubin shared their tragic experiences due to drugs and alcohol, the Natural High Club at RBVHS played the Natural High 4® DVD and asked the entire student body to stand up if they wanted to pledge to live Naturally High. Of the 3000 students, over 80% of them stood up, and feedback collected after the assembly revealed that there was more to the story; a number of students submitted comments that they felt compelled to stand up that day.

Peer pressure was not a pre-meditated step nor included as part of a strategic approach as the Natural High message was shared during the assembly and through the campaign. Instead, it has unfolded naturally, with teens feeling pressure to make positive choices instead of negative ones. This is precisely the place that most prevention organizations aim to reach. They want to connect with kids not only emotionally with fear and scare tactics, but consciously as well, so the effort will go from the heart to the head, and truly affect personal responsibility and behavior. “Peer pressure is usually seen as a negative phenomenon,” says Hastings. “However, I think without even trying, the ‘I Pledge to Live Naturally High’ Campaign is using peer pressure positively. The real social norm remains that there are plenty of teens choosing to live Naturally High. That’s the message I want all teens to see: that everyone has a Natural High, and those who live Naturally High are not alone. With this campaign, there is now a place to proclaim that.”

To learn more and see the thousands of pledges, visit http://www.naturalhigh.org/pledge. For additional information please contact Sasha Clifton at 858-551-7006 or sasha(at)naturalhigh(dot)org.

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Sasha Clifton

Michelle Ahearne
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