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Young River People’s Council Brings Substance Abuse Awareness with Community Cleanup

Members of the Young River People's Council participate in a trash pick-up in July.

A group of young Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community leaders spent a few hours on a recent July morning picking up trash along Community roads.

The effort by the Young River People’s Council was meant not only to clean up parts of the Community, but also to make people aware of the dangers of inhalant abuse.

Of the eight youth who helped pick up trash on July 26, two specifically targeted empty “whippets” or “whip-its,” small containers which are often found on the ground near stop signs along Community roads. When full, these small, usually silver, canisters contain nitrous oxide that can cause serious harm if inhaled. Unfortunately, some people use the gas inside the canisters to get high, and then they throw them away.

A job well done. The group of young leaders pose for a photo with bags of trash and a box of empty "whippets."
Submitted photo.
A batch of empty "whippets" found at one Community intersection.
“With this whole project, we are trying to create awareness of substance abuse and stuff like that,” YRPC member Sommer Lopez said. “By starting off by cleaning up these ‘whippets,’ we’ll kind of make it seem [to Community youth] like it’s not such a common thing to do drugs, and that it shouldn’t be a common thing.”

The cleanup happened days before the start of the 2017-18 school year. The YRPC members wanted to ensure that students waiting for the school bus wouldn’t have to see the evidence of inhalant abuse at their feet.

Lopez said she has seen the “whippets” before and didn’t know what they were at first. When she learned what they are and what people use them for, she was disappointed.

Multiple plastic bags were filled during a trash clean-up recently in SRPMIC. The YRPC recently spent a July morning picking up trash along Community roads.
Besides Lopez, YRPC members Nalani Lopez, Ky-Mani Harney, Samantha Casias, Dreamer Conger, Sialik King, Victoria Maynard and Gabriela Fulwilder participated in the trash pickup.

The group picked up multiple bags of trash and, unfortunately, almost a shoebox full of empty “whippets.”