By Braxton Dye
Teenagers from the Van Buren Youth Leadership Council (YLC) have joined forces with other teens and scientists across the United States as part of “National Drug Facts Week” (NDFW). The week-long health observance, organized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, takes place Monday, January 26th through Sunday, February 1st. NDFW celebrates the inquisitive minds of teens by giving them a space (virtual or physical) to ask questions about drugs and to get scientific answers from experts. During this week the Harmony Middle School, Harmony High School and Van Buren High School YLC Members are doing activities to help prevent and stop people from using all illegal (not prescribed) drugs.
About a third of high school seniors across the country report using an illicit drug sometime in the past year, and more than ten percent report non-medical use of a narcotic painkiller. While drugs can put a teenager’s health and life in jeopardy, many teens are not aware of the risks. Even for those teens who do not abuse drugs, many have friends or family who do, and they are often looking for ways to help them.
In 2006 16% of 8th graders had tried “Mary Jane” or Marijuana and it is easy to get addicted to. The following are facts about the dangers of marijuana use for the members of Van Buren County: causes problems with memory, causes dry mouth and blood shot eyes, time passes slowly, causes “the munchies”, loss of coordination, increases heart rate and smells bad.
We want teens to have the opportunity to learn what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction. There are so many myths about drugs cluttering our popular culture. National Drug Facts Week is for teens to get honest answers about drugs so they can make good, informed decisions for themselves and share accurate information with friends.
At Harmony Middle School six male 7th graders are talking to the 5th graders about the consequences of drugs, alcohol and tobacco use. Faith Diephuis’s group is going to do activities with 3rd graders to prevent the addiction of smoking. Krista White’s group is making posters to hang up in the school’s hallways so students can walk by and read many facts about the use of tobacco. There will also be two students on the radio on KMEM’s Coffee Break discussing National Drug Facts Week and the consequences of drug use.
At Harmony High School YLC Members will be peer teaching at the elementary school on the dangers of substance abuse, holding a Balloon Scavenger Hunt with Drug Facts and they will be hanging posters in the hallways of the school and in the community.
The Van Buren High School YLC Members will be focusing on a different drug each day. On Monday students will focus on Marijuana and provide Peer Teaching at the Van Buren Community Elementary School. Tuesday will focus on Tobacco and there will be a social norms campaign as well as a mystery box at lunch. Wednesday will highlight the dangers of Rx abuse with pill bottle facts and posters in the school. Thursday will address underage drinking by holding a scavenger hunt at lunch. Friday students will address other miscellaneous drugs by posting facts and information around the school.
For more information on National Drug Facts Week or the work of Van Buren County YLC please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more information on the SAFE Coalition Website www.vbsafecoalition.com or the YLC Website http://ylc.vbsafecoalition.com