Kenwood graduates win 2018 People’s Choice Award

Kenwood Class of 2018 graduates ZaQuan Muhammad, Robert L. Smith, Ayanna Fourte and Garrett Miller won the 2018 People’s Choice Award category for the Operation Prevention Video Challenge after their submission titled “Don’t Do It” received and outstanding number of votes from the public. – Photo courtesy of Ayanna Fourte

By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
Contributing Writer

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the DEA Educational Foundation and Discovery Education awarded four Kenwood Academy students the 2018 People’s Choice Award after their Operation Prevention Video Challenge, a nationwide annual challenge promoting life changing discussions in youth about the science behind opioid addictions and its impact on the body and brain, received an outstanding amount of votes from the public.

As winners of the 2018 People’s Choice Award, Kenwood Class of 2018 graduates Garret Miller, Ayanna Fourte, Robert L. Smith and ZaQuan Muhammad will receive an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the DEA Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia this fall, courtesy of the DEA.

Hundreds of teenagers submitted their entries to a nationwide video challenge sponsored by the DEA’s Operation Prevention program about the dangers of the opioid crisis in the U.S. Kenwood’s recent graduates created a one-minute public service announcement-turned-music sequence entitled “Don’t Do It” to educate youth about the risks related to opioids and why they shouldn’t give into the highly addictive substances.

“We want our peers to realize that opioids are deadly when they are misused. We want teens to know how to be strong minded and not fall victim to peer pressure,” said Miller in his contest submission letter. “People should vote for our video because the youth are very influenced by music and media, and our music video sends a positive message. Our video grabs the attention of youth and leaves them with more awareness of the opioid epidemic.”

The deadline to cast votes for the People’s Choice favorite was May 15, and the group was determined to win by reaching out to friends, mentors and the Hyde Park community for help.

“A lot of hard work and dedication was put into gathering votes every day,” said Fourte with a laugh. “At one point we had the school’s entire computer lab set to the voting page for our video! Not to mention the community support we’ve received. We’re more than grateful for their support throughout this journey and hope our video made a positive impact.”

The challenge is an extension of Operation Prevention, the DEA Educational Foundation and Discovery Foundation that help educate students K–12 about the science behind addiction and other substances that affect the health of the body.

Miller, who composed the song for the video said that their creative process was inspired by a science class they had during junior year.

“I wrote the song using resources I had learned during my junior year science class about opioids and the extreme damages they could do to your body,” Miller said. “I wanted to incorporate what we had learned in a creative way that people would remember, so we decided to create our video through song.”

Muhammad added that he was grateful for the communities’ help giving them the chance to get this scholarship and visit Quantico. All participants hoped that their video would “help someone struggling with this addiction regardless of age, or keep youth from getting involved in using these addictive substances.”

The Operation Prevention Video Challenge was created by the DEA in response to the epidemic levels that prescription opioid misuse has reached in the United States, with a shocking increase in overdoses and deaths related to these highly-addictive substances over the last few years.

To view the 2018 People’s Choice winner “Don’t Do It,” visit: www.operationprevention.com/video-challenge.

hpherald@hpherald.com