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Collaborative effort sending anti-drug message

6/5/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Shown above, from left, with a “NOT ME, I’m drug free” campaign poster at an anti-drug campaign launch held May 28 at DeWitt Elementary are: Cuyahoga Falls City School District Superintendent Todd Nichols, Falls Fire Chief Paul Moledor, Falls Mayor Don Walters, Falls Police Chief Jack Davis, Woodridge Local School District Superintendent Walter Davis and Western Reserve Hospital President and CEO Dr. Robert Kent.
Western Reserve Hospital President and CEO Dr. Robert Kent is pictured above talking about the dangers of drug use with students at the event.
Photos: Maria Lindsay
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Various organizations in Cuyahoga Falls have collaborated to launch a new anti-drug campaign in the city.

The “NOT ME, I’m Drug Free” initiative was announced May 28 at DeWitt Elementary School in Cuyahoga Falls as an effort to curb drug abuse, especially methamphetamine and heroin, according to the campaign’s officials.

The effort involves Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters, along with Police Chief Jack Davis and Fire Chief Paul Moledor, Western Reserve Hospital President and CEO Dr. Robert Kent, Cuyahoga Falls City Schools Superintendent Todd Nichols and Woodridge Local Schools Superintendent Walter Davis. A number of local businesses also are participating in the effort.

The campaign aims to educate elementary students about the dangers of drug use and offers “positive reinforcements” for not using drugs, such as a “Free-wards” incentive card that includes free food from area restaurants, rentals from Family Video, a T-shirt and other free perks.

All students in fourth and fifth grades received the card by pledging to be drug free, according to Cuyahoga Falls City Schools officials.

“Drug abuse is a growing problem in Cuyahoga Falls and we must be proactive as a community to address and minimize this life-destroying problem,” said Walters. “The unique collaboration will allow us to provide a consistent, pervasive message throughout the city: We are drug free.”

At DeWitt Elementary, officials involved in the collaboration talked to students about the dangers of drugs.

Davis told students drug use has been called an “epidemic,” and he said in 2011, one Ohioan died every five hours from a drug overdose.

Moledor described in simple terms what happens to a person when they use drugs and what measures emergency personnel have to take to help that person.

Nichols stated that drugs are impacting society more frequently and with more tragic results. He asked parents to lock up their pain medications because “this is where it starts.”

Nichols said the collaborative effort offers a “supportive network” to help students make positive choices.

“These problems are real,” said Davis about drug use. “Education is the key to solving them. Our kids deserve our best.”

Davis added that Woodridge Local Schools has a task force working on how to keep students from the dangers of drug use.

Kent called the effects of meth and heroin “catastrophic to a person’s health and mental well-being.” He told students to wear the “NOT ME, I’m Drug Free” T-shirts proudly.

“Western Reserve Hospital has initiated a number of effective programs that seek to improve the overall health of the community, and these bold strides toward reducing drug use will play a huge role in helping us achieve that goal,” he said.

In addition to the T-shirts and incentives for students, campaign officials are handing out free yard signs and placing posters in local businesses and organizations to promote the effort.

“Anything like this [campaign] is excellent,” said Carley Kruse, president of Teresa’s Pizza, one of the businesses offering students free items to stay drug free.

Walters stated the collaborative effort on the anti-drug campaign is meant to ensure “a bright future for Cuyahoga Falls.” He said the campaign was intended to address the issue with students before the summer break and it will continue in the fall when students return to school.

“We will stay involved and continue to nurture this program,” he added.

For more information on the effort, visit www.prod.facebook.com/NotMeDrugFree.

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