Belinda Ballah: Helping the community be drug free

With a joyful and upbeat vibe (and snacks) is how Belinda Ballah welcomes the members of the HRHS Health Media club. “ My first impression of Belinda was that she was nice; we went to a lot of field trips and I was always on the other side of the road, so I didn’t really talk to her,” says freshman Ash Vaday. Ballah is a Certified Prevention Specialist and is the co-facilitator for the Health Media ((Helping Educate Advocate and Lead Towards Health) club at Hood River Middle School, Wy’east Middle School and Hood River Valley High School. “ If I have to say one thing that I enjoy doing the most it would be– working with kids!” says Ballah. She enjoys traveling to new places and learning about new culture, “ I strongly believe in equality for all.” She’s also a world traveler. “ As I think of all the places I have been Haiti, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and across the United States are my favorite,” Ballah says. Health Media Club is a club in middle schools and high schools in the Hood River Valley. “The focus of this group is to empower students to speak to their peers and community about the adverse effects of drug use” explains Ballah. Health Media meets every second and fourth Thursday of every month in Gabe Judah’s classroom C12. To help promote a drug free community, the middle schools design shirts and the high school does hoodies. “Members also work towards environmental policy change by going before policy makers asking for policies to be adopted that protect our youth and community at large,” says Belinda. The club attendants ATOD meetings where they discuss opportunities and contribute with other organisations to promote a drug free community. Health Media Club members are not afraid to be different and not follow the crowd; they are amazing students trying to make  a great difference in this society. Gabe Judah, a sophomore and junior english teacher, works with Ballah as the adviser for the Health Media club.“My first impression of Belinda was that she is supremely concerned for the well-being of the young people of Hood River,” says Judah,“ And she’s happy, very happy.  She’s organized, considerate, and an excellent communicator as well”. Being with students all day, Judah knows how to interact with kids, but every day he watched Belinda be patient, very patient, with the very energetic and rowdy club members. Judah tries to follow her actions, “I see the way that she interacts with the group–persistent but not pushy, comfortable but not enabling, and I try to follow her lead,” Judah points out. “ I cannot work with middle schoolers, so there is no way I could do what she does.” Belinda is such a happy, creative and selfless person that sometimes she forgets to give herself some credit. Judah tells a story that shows just how selfless Ballah is, “A funny thing that’s happened a few times during meetings is that she will bring up a great point that we talked about at the last meeting. She’ll say, ‘that was such a beautiful idea.  I love that.  Who brought that up? Was it you Maria?’  And the group will say, ‘ Belinda, that was your idea.’ “ She thinks about others so much that she doesn’t even recognize when she’s brought up an awesome point.  She assumes somebody else did.” Ballah is just such a wonderful person that its hard to believe a person is that wonderful. By: Crystal Flores

Categories: Interview, News, People, Profile

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