GREENVILLE — Slightly more than 1,000 Greenville Elementary Kindergarten – fourth graders learned a little more about “bad” drugs Monday.
Greenville Elementary School hosted two Youth Substance – Abuse Education Prevention assemblies with its host Informational Speaker Cris Johnson. Through his high – energy magic show, Johnson created a drug-free message. His presentation, chosen for its prevention education tailored specifically for younger students, gave students information and strategies to deal with the topic of drugs. Johnson, of Niagara Falls, New York, has been making magic for a long time. Through a suggestion of a friend, Johnson started adding a message.
“And I’ve been hooked on it ever since,” he said. “It is a lot more fun to have a show with a message than just mere entertainment. I get a lot out of hearing kids talking about the messages afterwards. That is very cool.”
Johnson captivated the students in a fun way, with some pretty serious topics surrounding drugs, such as saying “no” to anyone offering drugs, why they should never try drugs, who they should receive “good” drugs from and what addiction is like. Greenville Elementary Kindergarten through second-grade Principal Jody Harter said the school has been seeking resources to share with the students, to inform them about the dangers of drug use and/or to seek help when necessary.
“So many of our students have been affected in one way or another by drug overdoses, from parents to relatives,” she said. “Research says the earlier the intervention, the more they know about it, the better off they are. Governor (John) Kasich and all of his research have said, the more you talk about it, the better the results are of students knowing the dangers of drugs. It is never too young to learn this.”
Johnson used visual aides to explain the seriousness of drug abuse. For example, he used a bunch of tangled hangers to explain the complications of getting hooked on drugs. He pulled a long string of colored tissue paper out of his mouth and all of the students yelled “ewwwwww!” His purpose was to show the silliness of putting something inside of one’s body that does not belong.
“If a stranger or even if someone you thought was your friend offers you something they think will make you feel good, remember the silly magician who put tissue paper in his mouth and you all went “ewwwwww!” Johnson said.
He also did some role playing with a couple students. He asked them to say “NO!” to the following questions: “I have some drugs here to make you feel really good – want some drugs?; If you take these drugs, you can sell them and make a lot of money – you want to make some money? I lost my doggies – will you help me find him?”
While all of his messages were meaningful, and Johnson is a real magician, the big takeaway was his request that the students learn the four Magic Words: “No, Go, Tell, Yell!” He had the kids repeat these words several times.
“Say it like you mean it,” Johnson said. “We hope nobody ever offers you anything bad, but in case they do, you say “NO – NO”! Then you yell to show that you mean it. Then you get away from that person as fast as you can, and go tell someone you trust. Sometimes it is kind of confusing about who to trust and who to turn to, but there is always someone you can turn to. The person you can turn to is very wise, very intelligent and very trustworthy. That person is your teacher.”
The assemblies were made possible through a grant for Substance Abuse Education and Prevention from the Coalition for a Healthy Darke County (Coalition). The Coalition recently applied for and received grants from the Darke County United Way and the Greenville Rotary Club. Those funds were added to Coalition dollars to offer Substance Abuse Education and Prevention grants. Greenville Elementary School Counselor Katy Copas and Principal Jody Harter applied for the Coalition grant because they recognized the need for drug prevention education at an early age.
“I think the assembly was very effective today,” Copas said. “The students repeatedly heard the words, “No, Go, Yell, Tell,” which gave them an easy strategy to remember if they are ever approached to use drugs. Mr. Johnson also talked about the effect drugs have on the body and why it is important not to try drugs, even one time. The assembly was informative, yet highly engaging. Talking about drug resistance while the students are this young sets the students on the right path to make healthy choices their whole lives.”
Coalition President Sharon Deschambeau said, as a mom and a grandmother, she is emotionally impacted by the growing substance abuse problem.
“I want these kids to start learning how to be prepared in kindergarten,” she said.
According to Deschambeau, in late summer, the Coalition will send out grant applications to all of the county school districts and ask them what they might like to do for special programs in the schools.
“Hopefully, we can fund the majority that respond, ” she said.
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