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Students learn not to mess with meth
While it is the first instinct of most adults to want to shield their children from talking about methamphetamine, the reality is that many students are already aware of the drug's existence, said Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Sophia Ramirez.
After the Yuma Sunrise Rotary approached her last year asking to implement the Don't Meth With Us program for fifth-graders on campus, at first she was unsure of how many of her students were even aware of meth.
But much to her surprise, in a group of close to 70 fifth-graders, about 80 percent of the students raised a hand when asked how many personally know of someone using methamphetamine.
One student even admitted he had been offered meth at the young age of 10.
“To me it was an eye-opener, they have already been exposed,” Ramirez said. “We need to change that mentality that's out there, we need to expose our children to those things that way they can make better choices ... We sometimes end up hurting them more when we shelter them because then they hear it from someone else who will lie to them and tell them it's good.”
Before allowing members of the Yuma Sunrise Rotary to present to her students, she sent out a letter to parents to make sure they were OK with their children going through it — providing an alternative assignment for students if they didn't want them to participate — and invited parents to join them for the presentation. She added that she didn't have a single parent opt out of having their students participate.
Through the Don't Meth With Us program, students learn about the detrimental consequences of experimenting with meth. Organizers are trying to implement the program into more schools across Yuma County.
Yuma Sunrise Rotary Club member Herlinda Hassell Wilson, who co-chairs the committee with fellow Rotary member Clyde Gill, said that with the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program no longer in existence on school campuses, another program was needed to fill that void.
“To be totally truthful, I was a little disappointed on how difficult and challenging it's been to get into the other schools,” said Wilson. “People are guarded and I understand that, but we're working hard with additional connections to get additional schools on board.”
For any parents, teachers or administrators interested in seeing the program in action, it will be presented to this year's group of fifth-graders at Roosevelt on Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m., she said.
“They're already sharing about it,” Wilson said. “They're exposed, maybe not to the drug itself but they know of it and people are experimenting and if that's the only conversation they're going to have, they need to hear the other side of it, that it is dangerous and that you shouldn't touch it.”
Gill added that their message doesn't just apply to meth, but they tell the students to make good choices and have good judgment in all things, not just with drugs.
As part of the program, students receive a Rotary coloring book and a Don't Meth With Us armband in addition to a T-shirt to serve as reminders. The T-shirt design was created by a fifth-grader at Roosevelt last year, Kimberly Ambriz, with her award-winning logo.
For more information about how to get a school involved in the program or on how to donate, call Wilson at 246-2393.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.