Music video produced by youth at Green Hill School wins national anti-fentanyl youth challenge


“Dark Road,” an anti-fentanyl campaign video produced and performed by a group of seven youth residing at Green Hill School in Chehalis, is officially the winner of the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) Anti-Fentanyl Awareness Youth Challenge.

The video was created in partnership with The Bridge Music Project specifically for the SAMHSA competition to raise awareness about fentanyl, empower youth to develop a strategy to educate their peers about the substance, and prevent drug overdose deaths.

“The youth’s creativity, rawness and passion in creating ‘Dark Road’ made their video stand out among over 200 other submissions and make them the anti-fentanyl video contest winner,” The Bridge Music Project said in a Facebook post on Tuesday, adding, “Thank you to the incredible community who support our youth and make projects like this possible.”

Six videos from across the nation were selected as winners, each receiving a $5,000 prize to share among the youth who produced them, according to the Washington state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), which manages Green Hill School.

The challenge was open to teens across the country ages 14 to 18. Green Hill was the only winner that included youth from a juvenile rehabilitation facility, according to DCYF.

“I feel this win from my perspective is a win for not only me, but all the youth at Green Hill,” said Conner, who has struggled with addiction since the age of 12 and is one of the Green Hill residents who produced the winning music video. "It’s a voice for youth who are struggling with addiction and a voice from a group of people who they can relate to. I wish I had a voice like this when I was younger."

An Olympia-based nonprofit that conducts workshops across the region, The Bridge Music Project worked with seven Green Hill School residents, at the invitation of DCYF, for eight weeks this year to write, produce and create an original music video.

“The core behind this work is that we’re helping you to build life skills, things like following through on a project when it’s hard, communicating and working with each other, (having) the self confidence to share your story on stage,” The Bridge Music Project Executive Director Bobby Williams previously told The Chronicle. “It’s music and it’s fun, but there’s a bigger mission beyond just music.”

The seven Green Hill School residents who took part in the program — six of which were Ron, Diante, Justin, Blake, Connor and TJ — were recruited by staff or other advocates within the facility.

“Many of the young people expressed that through the process of creating this video, they were able to process their grief of loved ones they lost to addiction, create friendships with those they wouldn't otherwise interact with, and have a new support system put in place,” DCYF said in a news release.

The youth wrote the song themselves and then collaborated with The Bridge Music Project’s sound engineer “to create a beat that blended everyone’s instruments and ideas.” Olympia-based filmmaker Colin McGee then shot and edited the music video, using storyboards created by the Green Hill youth.

“So proud of these young minds for using their talents to speak on such a major issue affecting their community and the world at large,” McGee said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “Addiction is a problem that's affected many people in my life from family to friends, so being able to use one of my talents to help a group of brilliant young minds speak on the issue was a very rewarding experience.”

Macklemore, a Grammy-winning rapper from Seattle and a longtime addiction recovery advocate, surprised Green Hill residents with an appearance at the “Dark Road” premiere on Friday, March 8. During his visit, he shared his recovery journey and support for the Green Hill artists. He also took the time to have impactful conversations with those attending the “Dark Road” premiere.

After its release, “Dark Road” gained nearly 7,000 views on YouTube, according to The Bridge Music Project.

“What an incredible accomplishment and talent our young men have,” said Felice Upton, DCYF’s assistant secretary of juvenile rehabilitation. “These young people took the opportunity during a national opioid crisis to share experience and information to help others.”

“Dark Road” is available to watch on YouTube at

Green Hill School is a medium/maximum security fenced facility in Chehalis that provides older males sentenced to juvenile rehabilitation treatment with education and vocational training.