LACKAWAXEN - Giancarlo “Gianni” Iona, a sophomore at Wallenpaupack Area High School,  has been named a Top 24 Under 24 Drug Mythbuster in a national challenge hosted by SparkAction and its partners in support of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and it’s National Drug Facts Week.
   The challenge to find the top 24 young people age 24 or under who are informing and empowering their peers to make decisions based on facts, not rumors, myths or peer pressure included nominees who are using science and creativity to move the dialogue beyond “just say no” to an exchange of science-based information on the use, impacts and effects of substances. 
    These 24 young changemakers are active in a range of ways. The winners range in age from 13 to 24, and live in rural, urban and suburban areas all across the country. But they share a few inspiring things in common.
  •  They’re making a Difference. Every nominee showed inspiring commitment to educating their peers about the science-based facts about drug use and its impacts on mind and body.
    •  They use their skills, talents and passion. Several of Top 24 Under 24 Drug Mythbusters use music, art and entertainment to raise awareness. Others work with technology. Still others partner with local business and organizations to spread their messages.
   • They’ve got drive. Mythbusters work in schools, communities, after-school programs and camps. If they couldn’t find local resources that felt genuine and resonated with them, these mythbusters built their own. Several of the winners developed their own programs, curriculum and/or sober living spaces to educate and support other young people. Several worked to improve policies that govern the use (and disposal) of medication.
   Gianni, President of the WAHS SADD chapter, designed a mobile kiosk which includes a flat panel screen showing public service announcements and statistics about drug and alcohol use and other destructive decisions.  The kiosk also houses take-away information provided by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
   The kiosk was built with the help of classmate and fellow SADD member Joe Paparazzo and the WAHS Wood Shop and Art Departments and travels around the school each day and is prominent at many school events.  Gianni was honored in November with the “Activity of the Year” award for the state of Pennsylvania by SADD PA for the kiosk.
  Gianni was also the lead organizer for WAHS’s SADD Mock Crash last Spring.
  He is the son of Tara and John Iona of Lackawaxen.