Children First: Student Alcohol and Drug Use

Started in February, the Meridian Public School District's, "Moving Ahead With Prevention" program is making a difference in the lives of many young people. Funded by a federal grant, the three-year program targets children 11 to 15-years-old.

Once a week for two hours, program officials meet with students at Eastern Gardens, Western Gardens and Reece Courts housing developments to talk about the dangers of things such as: drugs, alcohol and violence. During the sessions they also stress the importance of positive things such as communication.

"This may sound odd," said prevention specialist Jerome Miller, "but sometimes people can see some aspects within us much more clearly than we are able to see them within ourselves. One way or another teenagers are going to communicate. If it's through violence, if it's through disruptive behavior or even if they just come out and talk to you they WILL communicate. We feel that the more they talk to us, the more likely we can intervene before something disruptive happens."

Although it's still early, prevention specialists say it appears the program is working.

"After being in the program for five to six sessions," said program coordinator Margaret Brown, “their behavior is starting to change. You can see it in what they write in their journals for the sessions. Their attitudes are starting to change!"

Aside from on-site sessions the program also provides educational and entertaining field trips for the students.

For information on volunteering with the program call 482-3784. Program officials say it's a decision you won't regret!