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Prevention Talk: Communicate to prevent substance abuse

August 12, 2019 11:38 am Updated: August 12, 2019 11:45 am


Communication is the bedrock of all human relationships. With this in mind, PAS It On of Greene County, a small local organization dedicated to prevention and awareness of and solutions for substance misuse. spent four days at the Greene County Youth Fair.

Good communication is a major protective factor for preventing substance abuse. Sharing our knowledge, beliefs and values with others creates strong bonds and healthy relationships.

And so, we came together to talk to the kids and their families about the need for building strong bonds with family and community that reduces drug abuse and about the need for every individual to find “better things to do than drugs.”

Together with friends from the Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene County, The Health Care Consortium, Twin County Recovery Services, Inc., and the National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, volunteers from Pas It On, funded by a generous grant from the Rural Health Network of Greene County, provided activities for adolescents and teens highlighting the advantages of sobriety.

Four days were spent explaining how alcohol and other drugs affect brain and body functions. Fatal-vision goggles allowed us to demonstrate these negative effects using a simple maze activity. Teens were challenged to solve the maze first without the goggles, and then repeat the task while wearing them. The results were then compared and discussed.

Teens took a drug IQ test, answering a few thought-provoking questions about drug effects on the brain and body. This task encouraged conversation and allowed us to share valuable health information with the contestant. Many parents and other adults joined the discussions and tried the maze and goggles, which not only delighted the kids but gave credibility to the value of our messages.

Both teens and adolescents were asked to identify healthy activities they believed were better to do than drugs. Teens listed their “positive alternatives” to drugs on cards, which were placed in a drawing. A winner was drawn each evening. Winners received a $15 “I Tunes” gift card donated by PAS It On.

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 competed in a coloring contest for passes to the Cairo-Purling Roller Rink, donated by the Schneider family, owners of the rink. Volunteers chatted with the children about how they stay healthy through good nutrition, exercise and fun things to do with family and friends while they colored selected pictures of activities portraying “Healthy Life Styles.” One winner in each of the three age categories was selected each day.

More than 300 people stopped at our tables, giving us the opportunity to communicate messages of prevention and to clearly identify what prevention is all about.

Prevention is about good physical, mental and emotional health. It’s about good decision making, good values and a solid belief system. It’s about building strong relationships and commitment to family, friends, and community. Prevention is about having the courage and skills to be the best possible person we can be. Prevention is about communication.

Reach Helen Exum at