We chatted recently with two Teen Advisory Board members from Chattahoochee High School in John’s Creek, Georgia. Shreen Shavkani is a Sophomore and Jonah Turner is a Junior; both are first year TAB members.
Text has been edited for briefness and clarity.
Tell us how long you have been involved in SADD/TDS? How and why did you join?
Shreen: I started off last year with SADD/TDS and ended up finding opportunities to join the Teen Advisory Board.
There were a lot of activities that were postponed or cancelled due to Coronavirus, but a lot of new things did come out of it considering that we did have the online virtual Ride With Me activity, which was very cool because a lot of people across the country were able to access it and they did not have to be in person.
Jonah: I joined SADD at the end of my Freshman year, beginning of my Sophomore year because one of my friends joined it and he was telling me that it was a pretty fun time doing all the activities and talking and getting things done.
I am also a member of the TAB this year. This year is obviously difficult due to the whole Coronavirus pandemic. Most of our time has been spent thinking about things we have done in the past and how can we change them to get them out in a more internet-based format so more people could see them since a majority of the students at Chattahoochee are doing online school. It has been an interesting year, but it has been still able to get things done and still participate in a number of activities.
Can you expand on that a little, Jonah and talk about what you guys have done this year?
Jonah: This year it is a question of what can we do? One of the activities we have done was actually pretty fun where I went and grabbed a bag of chalk and distributed them around to people and had each person film a short video of them drawing a message on the sidewalk, or around their driveway or something. And that was pretty fun! Then, someone edited it together and we put it out as a stream on social media. That was a pretty fun way to get the activity out there.
Recently, we have also participated in a few of the TDS challenges. So, the Track-A-Thon Event where me and my friend, Daniel, did an entry for that. And besides that, the other week we decided to take the Drowsy Driving type activities for these next month’s virtual so normally during this time of year we do a sleep type surveys for drowsy driving in the cafeteria where we take some responses and then we give out information based on that, and we also did a Valentines activity where we put safe driving messages with a mint on them and handed them out.
You guys have been super active throughout this entire time, and you are very active on social media doing Zoom Meetings, where you do a lot of learning activities through that.
Can you tell us a little bit about what your process is for coming up with these activities and then getting them completed and how much of a role do you guys play in that individually?
Shreen: One of the first things we do is meet up with our leadership team and just think about ideas we have done in the past, or taking suggestions from Ms. Nolan, who is our club sponsor at our school and is usually has great ideas. We write down a couple of ideas that we want to do, also the TDS website has a great platform and their website has a bunch of ideas that teams can use to either, a) get points in general for your school or b) have fun activities that you can do with your volunteers and students at your school.
I think our involvement in all these activities is pretty high considering we do have to think everything out, like the logistics of it and then after we introduce these ideas in our club meeting. For example, we have a meeting this week at our school and we will ask if our members are interested in trying to compete in this competition, are you trying to do this activity, are you guys interested in trying to edit a video for specific competition or anything to that sort and we try to get their feedback and implement it during our meeting. We kind of just work on the spot and work with our team.
How often do you guys meet?
Shreen: At least once or twice a month for over an hour. Our leadership meeting usually run about 25-30 minutes and our club meeting will run a little over an hour.
Who makes up your leadership team, who makes that up and how they get into those leadership positions?
Jonah: Last year we were debating what positions we had, and which ones were available. Last year we had a President, Vice President and Social Media, and we decided to carry the same roles over to this year. We had a vote at the end of the year. We sent out a Google form and had people put in their names. I became Vice President, Shreen became Social Media Manager, Daniel became President and he started kicking it up and got people to join. He is the President and decided to add a Secretary role because that is what he was the previous year to help track the data so when we do seatbelt checks, the Secretary inputs all the data.
What personal benefits have you found with being involved with TDS and the TAB?
Shreen: Yes, personally some of the main benefits I am gaining from being in SADD are the different ideas people have that people are not necessarily aware of. For example, last year when I was taking over drowsy driving, I did not realize that running on less sleep, which is typically normal for me on school nights is around 5-6 hours, is not safe to drive on, and I did not realize how big of an issue it was internally. When I saw all my peer and I told them about it, they did not have any idea about that either. I think that learning about these facts are a big thing, in general.
I think another thing that made a big impact, specifically being on TAB, was getting to meet new people across the country. Since we are online and I have not gone out to meet new people in person, but I have met people virtually and being able to talk to them and get their input on different thoughts and ideas and backgrounds.
Jonah: What is beneficial for me is the wide variety of things you pick up from in the SADD meetings that you don’t really think about. When you come into these big SADD meetings and TAB Board meetings, you have people from all across the country with different ideas and backgrounds, everyone kind of has their own unique perspective on what can be done, what activities, and what points need to be brought forth to make the best of it. I think that is the best benefit! The broad range of ideas and things to pull from that make your activities, ideas, and information better. Additionally, it provides another way to motivate you. You hear about all of these great things that are happening and achieving across the country, it motivates you and pushes you to be better and do more for your school, to do more for your area, to do better because you hear of all these success stories and you want to emulate that at your school.
Jonah, tell us about your Track-A-Thon entry and the idea you all came up with.
Jonah: Yeah, the problem Daniel and I were trying to solve was how to limit pedestrian and various car accidents at railroad crossings, more specifically pedestrians, so it was “How can we keep people aware that they are near a railroad track and where a train may be coming if they are distracted by their headphones?” We decided to target the headphones aspect. Noise cancelling headphones have become increasingly prevalent recently and has become what people want. So, we did a little bit of research and found the range that noise cancelling headphones operate and how they do so. We decided to come up with a device that targets the weak points of noise cancelling headphones where if you were to install a small device at a railroad crossing or near a railroad track, that can permeate that weakness of the noise cancelling headphones, you can alert the person because you can get through their headphones and make them aware, because if someone is listening to music and they hear a weird shrill sound or some weird noise, they are going to look up and be distracted and be like, “what’s going on”, and that’s going to make them realize the location and the potential danger they are in.
Do you ever challenge other schools?
Jonah: We have talked about it. I know a few other schools in our area, like Lambert, and they have said they have SADD clubs. We have considered it but have not actually done any challenges with other schools, but I think it is a good thing to consider in the future.
Shreen: Yeah, and I think especially since we are online, we can try challenging people across the country from other schools and reach out to people who are on the points so we can challenge them and use Kahoot too.