Red Ribbon Week focuses on substance abuse, bullying

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 30, 2011

The posters on the walls of the third floor of the Lawrence County Courthouse are colorful and creative. They are also stark reminders that even at a young age, children can be affected by drug and alcohol abuse.

This week is National Red Ribbon Week, aimed at educating young people on the dangers of substance abuse.

Each year the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputies visit fifth grade classes at each school in Lawrence County, bringing a message that a life free of substance abuse is a life worth living. The students are then asked to make anti drug and anti-alcohol posters that are displayed at the courthouse.

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This year, the sheriff’s office partnered with the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management District, which provided the gifts for the poster contest winners.

SWMD Educator Stephanie Helms said, while the classroom visits and posters are meant to educate the children, some of the children provided their own education to the adults about how drug and alcohol abuse has already affected their young lives.

“We had one little girl who dedicated her poster to her dad who had died of a drug overdose,” Helms said. “One girl told Scott Wilson she wished Wilson would put her father in jail to keep her father from hurting himself. Some kids, it’s really shocking what kind of drugs these kids, in the fifth grade, could identify. They knew what they were.”

Wilson said this year, he extended his discussion to include bullying and gun safety, two topics that are as timely these days as drug and alcohol abuse.

“Bullying is a problem in schools,” Wilson said.

Sheriff Jeff Lawless said the Red Ribbon Week activities are meant to open a dialogue with the students about leading healthy, sober lives and show the public what the children are learning through the poster contest.

“It’s a good education for the adults and the kids,” he said. “It’s just good all the way around.”