MARION, OH (WCMH) – Students in Marion start school tomorrow and new this year is a curriculum focused on teaching kids about heroin and drug addiction. It’s a program with the school and police called “Too Good For Drugs.”
Like many cities in Ohio, Marion has been hit hard by the heroin epidemic.
“Do we have issues? We do, but our worst days are certainly way behind us,” says Marion Police Dept. Lt. B.J. Gruber
Lt. Gruber says as a community they’ve fought drug addiction with law enforcement and treatment, but have lacked in educating the public.
“We see this as real game changer for us and we can kind of get to this next generation of kids and prevent them from ever touching drugs,” says Lt. Gruber.
Director of educational programs at Marion School District Amy Wood says in a survey, 90% of their teachers said in one way or another, drugs were impacting their student’s ability to learn. That alone was a deciding factor in launching the new program in their schools.
“We want students to reach their highest potential and you can’t reach your highest potential if you’re not drug free,” says Wood.
She hopes the program will give students the confidence and skill-set to just say “no”.
“When they’re facing peer pressure or when they’re dealing with a culture that is accepting of drugs in the home, that they have the ability to resist those temptations and really make good choices,” says Wood.
High school senior Aaron Hartley already knows the strong-hold and control drugs can have on a person’s life.
“A lot of kids think, ‘Oh this is just heroin, it’s not going to hurt me if I do it one time’. In the end, it will end up hurting you,” he says.
Hartley is not an addict, but at just 17-year-old he’s seen first-hand how destructive heroin can be. His sister is in recovery. His cousin died from an overdose.
“Having a death like that…it changes you and it makes you want to change everything about the world on drugs,” he says. “I don’t want a little kid to have to go through that.”
That’s why he’s excited to see the his school district begin this new program.
“It’s going to help kids not have to be around drugs and not to have that life anymore, so they can do whatever they want,” says Hartley.
Wood says the curriculum focuses on setting goals, decision making and managing emotions.
“What the research really tells us is that students who can do those things well tend to be able to resists starting to use drugs and alcohol,” she says. “When we think about students and their future in order for them to be employable to have a successful career that has a life sustaining wage, they need to be drug free so that’s a message we can start sending here at the public school level.”
The goal is to have programming for each grade level, K-12.
“We’re not only spreading that anti-drug message, we’re also being a resource to them,” says Lt. Gruber. “We’re also being another layer of support to them.”
Hartley says this program could help save a lot of lives.
“Our generation is tired of it. We’re tired of living in that world where drugs hurt people and so we want a better world for this and I feel like this program could help that a lot,” he says.
If you or someone you know needs help with drug addiction, CLICK HERE for more information.