Hancock County middle and high school students are equipping themselves to become peer leaders in their schools in the area of drug and substance abuse education and prevention. Last November, more than 90 students participated in the weekend-long Family Resource
Center sponsored program, Project H.A.P.P.Y. (Hancock Addiction Prevention Program forYouth) at McComb Church of Christ has a goal to educate adolescents on the consequences of substance abuse and involvement in high-risk behaviors as well as the development of prosocial skills. This program is directed by FRC prevention educator Michele Branham, funded by the United Way and the ADAMHS (Alcohol, Drug and Mental HealthServices Board). Participants attended educational workshops, performances and skits and leadership activities. Community leaders who spoke at the event included Hancock County Common Pleas Court Judge Reginald Routson, Open Arms educator Sara Sublett and Hancock County Schools Resource Officer Deputy Tim Saltzman.
Participants also learned about the ever-increasing drug abuse problem, both statewide and nationally, heroin use and addiction. Students discussed an actual heroin addict scenario with Judge Routson and were provided specifics on heroin abuse by Deputy Saltzman. A personal story was shared by a local high school teen who recently lost her father to a heroin overdose, who shared her story to advocate against substance abuse and to help others in similar situations.
“I know there are other kids like this out there she said. “I want them to see I’ve overcome the situation… I am someone they can relate to and be open to.”
Participant Justin Ring, a 7th grade student from Van Buren was invited onstage to help perform the popular self-empowerment themed song, “Fight Song,” during the concluding day of activities. Ring, who received a standing ovation for his performance, said he loved coming to this year’s program. “It was fun and enjoyable,” Ring said. “Drugs don’t do anything for you – it’s all bad – I try to have fun everywhere and support my beliefs against drug use. It does harm to you.”