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March 4, 2011

Teens deliver impressive message

There’s no doubt that drugs are a scourge on society and the cause of many of its ills.

Over the years, the message to the youth of America has been “Just Say No.”

Police and other groups have brought drug education programs into our schools and the message has been repeated time and again.

Still, whether it be due to poor examples by adults in their lives, peer pressure or just the need to explore and experiment for themselves, many of our youth have continued to find their way into the drug culture and, often, into problems with the justice system.

As part of its way to reduce repeat offenders, the Indiana Department of Correction has put several programs into place, such as CLIFF (Clean Lifestyle Is Freedom Forever).

CLIFF is a a six- to nine-month program for offenders who have drug problems and those at risk of developing drug problems. As part of the program, participants must complete substance abuse education.

That’s what led four teenagers to Columbia Elementary School last week as part of its Students Talking About Recovery program.

Shackled together and wearing yellow jumpsuits, the four boys told the fifth-graders of how they ended up incarcerated in Logansport as well as other aspects of their past that caused harm to their families and themselves.

The teens offered a powerful message about how drugs and alcohol affected their lives and caused innumerable problems.

They told the younger children of the importance of getting an education.

“If I could, I would go back and do school right,” a young man named Phillip told the fifth-graders. “Now I’m struggling. It’s harder to get jobs.”

The teens’ message about how drugs can affect a person’s life is one that our youth need to here.

It’s one thing for parents, police, teachers and other adults to talk about it.

It’s a totally different thing for kids to hear the message from someone who is only a few years older.

Any school or group interested in hearing the story of the STAR teens should contact Mark Harmon, program director at the facility at 574-753-7571, extension 3020.

You’ll find their message to be one well worth hearing.

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