COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – From Columbus to the classroom, Gov. John Kasich’s office is talking to schools about its youth drug prevention program.
The program is called “Start Talking” and doesn’t cost schools a penny.
There are three programs in Start Talking — Law enforcement is part of the mix, as well as education for parents. As part of Start Talking, police take trips to schools to discuss the dangers of drug use with students, and parents are filled in on the important conversations to have with their kids.
On Monday, local superintendents and principals learned about Start Talking, which has already been implemented in Trumbull County schools. They met at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center to learn more.
One supporter is Columbiana Schools Superintendent Don Mook.
“The more messages we can get out to kids and their families, the better we can combat the drug issues on Ohio, and certainly in our school districts,” he said.
Columbiana High School Senior Dalton Miller listened in on a drug prevention session on Monday morning.
“It’s just really an eye opener, ’cause it’s like, you live in a community where you can get anything you want, like the heroin, like the prescribed pills,” he said.
Start Talking Director Sarah Smith said Gov. Kasich launched the program two years ago, and Trumbull County schools started using it in all 20 districts last year.
“Start Talking is based on national research that shows kids are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs when their parents or another close, trusted adult talks with them about drug use,” Smith said.
There are some challenges in talking to students, but educators say it is going well so far.
“We’re trying to take a really aggressive approach in Trumbull County, because we are 11th in the state of Ohio for the opioid epidemic,” said Denise Holloway, guidance counselor and nurses coordinator at the Trumbull County Education Service Center.
Holloway says schools are blending in all three parts of the program, making each fit in with students’ needs. The goal is to let students know how powerful drugs are but also help parents and teachers know how to have these important conversations.
“I think anything we can do, if it impacts one student is beneficial for us,” Mook said.