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Essex CHIPS is “Unwasted” in Essex Junction, VT

Essex Junction, VT, is home to some pretty amazing teenagers. The Essex CHIPS “Above the Influence” group, led by Mischa Tourin, received national recognition from MTV in February 2012 for their submission to MTV & Above the Influence’s “Unwasted Weekend” video challenge. MTV selected the Essex ATI teens’ video as one of three that best showcased how teens across the country spend their weekends “Unwasted” from drugs, alcohol, and other negative influences.

Teens from Essex ATI posing for photos during their red carpet MTV video premiere.

The Essex ATI teens filmed and submitted their idea for an all-night lock-in to MTV, who informed them a few weeks later that their video was selected. MTV helped the Essex CHIPS ATI group host their “Unwasted Weekend” at a local expo center where teens danced, played games, and held competitions and contests – all without the influence of drugs and alcohol. “This weekend, we want to get all the kids in the school together and show them having fun doesn’t mean getting high or getting wasted,” said Joey, one of the teens who led the project. Check out MTV’s ATI video which featured the Essex CHIPS “Unwasted Weekend” in a national commercial.

The ATI team traveled to Essex for a Hollywood-style red carpet premiere of the teens’ MTV video for more than 200 of their friends, classmates, and community members. The teens spent the evening taking pictures in front of the red carpet backdrop and talking with their peers about the importance of staying “Above the Influence” in their community. Their video aired nationally on MTV and other major networks later that week.

ATI considers its partners and teens the true owners of the campaign; they give the campaign life. Even after the “Unwasted Weekend” event came to an end, these teens continued to interact with the campaign. In May 2012, the Essex ATI teens created another video, highlighting what their group stands for. Watch the latest video from Joey and his friends. The teens also visited local middle schools and freshman health classes in their high school to lead ATI activities. This group continued to work with the community to spread the ATI message that they believed it. As a keepsake, they created an ATI yearbook to highlight all of their ATI events from the year.