Student strives to empower young people to beat addiction

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Illustration by Tyler Carpenter

Parker Johnson, a business student and the vice president of marketing for Empower: Slave To None, works with other young entrepreneurs to help young people view addiction in a new way and inspire hope.

A world where none are slaves to addiction is the vision of Empower. This organization works through schools to raise awareness of addiction, using tools such as music, video, and face to face interaction.  

“We believe in people and their potential. We don’t wait until the problem becomes major to reach out,” Johnson said. “We want people to know that there are healthy and positive ways to deal with life struggles, and we inspire them in a variety of ways.”

A unique aspect of this movement is the use of music to inspire. Brendon Nielson, musician for Empower, collaborated with other artists to create an album titled Hope. This album correlates with the themes from the 12 steps of recovery, commonly used in alcoholics anonymous.  The songs combined with the steps of recovery are used to inspire hope. Empower has found that music is a great way to reach young people.

Johnson served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Africa, where he saw many people struggle because of different addictions. His passion for serving continued after he returned home and he became apart of the Empower team. Johnson hopes to continue to build movements and companies that will positively affect people.

“My goal is to get ourselves in a position that allows us to equip others with opportunities for success to those who may lack the opportunity to do so,” Johnson said.

Brooke Mason, a student from Ridgeline High School, was inspired by the movement when the Empower team visited the school. Mason was chosen to join them on stage.

“They all screamed and cheered for me telling me I was loved and not alone. I started to tear up and I realized that it was true,” Mason said. “They helped me deeply and profoundly. It has impacted me since then and I thank them for that incredible experience to be loved and empowered.”