A lot can happen in 30 seconds. That’s the amount of time it takes the body to produce 72 million red blood cells and 36 heartbeats. It’s also the length of Anna Happy and Miya Gallagher’s award-winning public service announcement – Be Marijuana Free, produced by Dreampilot, a video production service in Reno.
Anna, 15, and Miya, 14, entered their PSA in the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s We R Native competition. The girls won a $1,000 grand prize. They competed on behalf of the Mustang Youth Team so the money will fund MYT projects.
Miya’s mother, Tina Gallagher, is the deputy director of the Frontier Community Coalition, housed in the train depot. She organized the MYT in the fall of 2019. According to Happy, its mission is “to show youth they can have fun without substances.”
“We use our voices to speak up about issues that matter to us,” adds Miya Gallagher.
The girls begin their PSA by introducing themselves and stating that they are “marijuana-free.”
“My grandma is half Paiute,” says Miya, seated on a couch in the depot. “Native culture is beautiful because our Tribes help youth become drug-free and transition into life.”
“My grandma, some of my uncles and aunts live on the reservation,” adds Anna, wearing a beaded necklace made by a local Elder, Kathy Soto.
At the end of the PSA, the girls stroll past the depot wearing Soto’s ribbon skirts. The traditional clothing honors First Nation heritage and represents missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The a-line skirts have layers of ribbon, usually satin.
Both girls are knowledgeable about their topic, showing an ability to look at it from different angles.
“I live on the reservation and there are benefits from the dispensary proceed money,” says Happy, referring to Nabodoka, a cannabis store on the colony.
They donate to different causes during the year. For example, they paid the remainder of school lunch fees for the whole district, Tribal youth school fees, Grad Night and youth groups. The proceeds will eventually be used for community upgrades.”
“Adult marijuana use is different than youth use,” says Miya. Neither girl sees any positives to young people using marijuana.
“Marijuana use in any form is not safe for a youth’s brain development,” says Miya.
Research backs her up. It consistently shows the brain continues to mature into the twenties. While it is developing there is a greater risk of harm from marijuana use.
“It won’t help them in school or life. It will just lead them away from other stuff they could do – like sports, hanging out with friends and other activities,” says Happy.
Miya Gallagher encourages adults who use marijuana to lock it up. She’d also like them to talk to their teens about the harm it causes a developing brain. Her mother agrees.
“We have been told about kids taking their parent’s marijuana to school so it’s good to have somewhere to lock it up,” says Tina Gallagher. “One kid took edibles to school and another took a dab pen.”
The FCC offers free lock bags. They can help keep marijuana out of the wrong hands.
Miya also won an award from the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition. They named her a community champion for her work in tobacco awareness.
“I started advocating after losing my aunt to alcohol addiction. She was special to me, so my mom and I wanted to honor her by teaching youth that addiction of any kind is dangerous. I focus on tobacco because I feel like I can make a change by showing youth that not starting is even better than quitting.”