That Thing on Friday Night in Melba has been bringing kids from all backgrounds together for a safe drug- and alcohol-free night since 2006.
TTFN was created as a healthy alternative to the temptations of drug and alcohol use, with the motto, “No drugs, no alcohol, all fun.”
Chris Hinderliter and Beth Cole started TTFN after Hinderliter served on a drug and alcohol prevention committee.
They began discussions about the prevention programs that were offered at the time.
“The programs are good. I remember learning to just say no in school but there was no alternative for the kids to do anything else,” said Hinderliter.
Together they came up with the plan to create an alternative for the kids.
“The purpose is to give kids the alternative to using drugs and alcohol or getting caught up in situations where they feel that they need to use drugs and alcohol to have fun,” said Hinderliter. “A lot of kids enter into using drugs and alcohol because they are at places where it is going on because they have no better place to be.”
They began talking to students about what they wanted to see happen.
They got student and teacher input and recruited kids, as student leaders for the TTFN committee, who seemed to have impact on other students and could represent a large variety of the people groups, or cliques.
Student leaders help organize, reserve equipment, plan, set up and clean up each event.
The student leaders also create the videos, and Hinderliter edits them, to promote the TTFN events in a way that kids relate.
Chaperones are chosen for the events for their ability to be role models to the kids, as well.
Generally, TTFN offers things such as inflatable slides and inflatable interactive sports games, like jousting, board games, glow ball, war ball and pizza that keep the students well entertained.
“We really get a good mix of kids and they do things together,” said Cole. “They all go play glow ball together and they have a good time and get to know each other.”
TTFN has about 120 to 160 students attend each event, which is about 50- to 60-percent of the high school population.
In the beginning there was funding for prevention programs coming into the school that helped fund a lot of the project.
The goal was to have TTFN at least four times a year and, in a perfect world, one Friday per month.
However, funding from the Safe and Drug Free Act was reduced to zero about three years ago and that left the TTFN crew with challenges to get the approximately $500 needed to put on each event.
In response to the decreased funding, TTFN leaders decided to ask for a $2 donation for those who attend.
However, the leaders will not restrict anyone due to lack of ability to pay,
The Melba Community Auction, fortunately, has been able to assist in recent years to add money to TTFN, and has brought back some of the lost dollars and kept the program running.
The 13 current student leaders are working on the plans for the first TTFN event of the 2012-13 school year.
For more information contact Beth Cole 495-2221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.