Giles Co. school teaches students about drug prevention

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PEARISBURG (WSLS 10) - Drug addiction is an issue many Southwest Virginia families face.

Law enforcement and mental health professionals work to combat the issue in adults and now a New River Valley public school is working to prevent it in the next generation.

The lessons for 5th and 7th grade students at Macy McClaugherty go beyond SOL's and traditional classroom learning. "Too Good for Drugs" is a grant funded curriculum that's there to guide students away from drugs.

Each week Rene Cox, a prevention specialist at New River Valley Community Services comes gives a lesson from the program, complete with homework activities to take home and complete with families.

"We want to reduce risk for children," Cox said.

It starts by teaching social and emotional learning that builds character in students, allowing them to avoid peer pressure and build self-esteem.

The lesson Thursday focused on positive versus negative thinking, and builds students' self-esteem.

"Is that half full or half empty," Cox asked after pointing to a page in the student's workbook.

Cox says education is the best prevention.

"If we have opportunity at 10 years old to talk to them about drugs and what the realities are at an age appropriate curriculum, what we can do is open that dialogue for them," Cox said.

Principal Jared Rader says this is opening a dialogue for students who may already be affected by drugs in some way either from their families, or friends.

"So many people get involved with drug abuse from an environment or family life," Rader said.

With the drug epidemic becoming so strong nationwide, it was a subject Rader said was necessary to address at school, possibly saving a child's life in the future.

"If we can teach kids the necessary tools that we have to think better of themselves so that they don't fall victim and prey to things like those in their life, that will give them a step and an advantage over other students," Rader said.

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