BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – For the last several years, Ohio’s Attorney General has made the problems of heroin abuse and addiction one of his targets, even setting up a special task force to address the issue.
Friday, he was in the Valley taking a look at what one school district is doing.
A program called “Brain Power,” developed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, is aimed at tackling the epidemic of drug abuse at the grade school level.
Attorney General Mike DeWine visited a fifth grade class at Center Middle School in Boardman Friday morning, watching the “Brain Power” program in action. He said it’s crucial to reach students at all levels.
“The program we’re seeing here at Boardman really follows what all the scientific data indicates, and that is, that you can’t just do some education in the fifth grade and the ninth grade,” DeWine said. “What you’ve got to do is you got to start in kindergarten, you have to do something that’s age-appropriate, that gets kids’ attention, and then continue to do that every single year.”
Administrators say the five-day program is geared for science and health classes and is now being offered in a number of local districts. Supporters say it shows students the science behind addiction, like how drugs, alcohol and nicotine affect the brain.
“Then we look at a kid and say, ‘OK, now that you know, what is your decision?’ We’re putting the knowledge in kids’ hands so that they can make decisions about health choices,” said Nancy Pommerening, executive director at Drug Awareness and Prevention Inc.
Previous programs like “DARE” had to be cut in the past because of funding problems, but “Brain Power” is being underwritten by the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation.
Although DeWine created a special task force three years ago to help local police go after drug dealers and suppliers, he insists the state can’t arrest its way out of the problem. He says educating young people to avoid drugs in the first place may be the best course of action,