COAL GROVE, Ohio (WOWK) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine visited three school districts Tuesday morning, including Dawson-Bryant High School, to get a first-hand look at how addiction prevention programs are benefiting students.
Addiction is not just something seen in the movies for residents in Lawrence County; many members of the community have witnessed its consequences.
“I have family members who have fallen into this addiction and I’ve seen what they go through,” said Connor Waller, a sophomore at St. Joseph High School. “They don’t have a place to live [and] they’re digging through trash to get stuff.”
Waller is one of many students in the ‘Impact Prevention Program’ in Lawrence County. His first-hand experience is what inspires him to help students dealing with anxiety, stress, and depression turn to each other, rather than turning to drugs.
Governor DeWine says he wants every school across the state to have addiction prevention programs.
“This really is a community challenge,” said DeWine. “It’s not a school problem, but the school is part of the community and everybody needs to come together for prevention.”
Students in ‘Impact Prevention’ are taking on the challenge one peer at a time. They target middle school students because it is easier to reach out to them before they get into high school, when those students will make choices that could possibly impact the rest of their lives.
“They look up to some of us like role models,” said Drew Fields, a sophomore at Dawson-Bryant High School. “I think it’s easier for them to listen to us.”
That’s something Governor DeWine agrees with.
“[In] my experience with our children and our grandchildren is that young people talking to other young people is a lot more effective than adults [talking to them],” said DeWine. “That’s just the way life is.”
Governor DeWine worked to include $18 million dollars in the state biennium budget to fund prevention education efforts, with an additional $2 million dollars to support prevention education training for school staff.