Author: 
Elizabeth Clark, Shelby County Drug Free Coalition Youth Leader

Shelby County Youth Coalition Members Encourage Community to Release Their Inner Hero

It doesn't take a superhero to change a life. The Shelby County Drug Free Coalition has been buzzing with work, making that motto extraordinarily prevalent this month. Because it is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, we decided October would be the perfect month to kick start the Medicine Safety Youth Educators Pilot, supported by CADCA and McNeil Consumer Healthcare. The pilot challenged and trained us to teach the Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety Program to local kids. The OTC Medicine Safety program was taught to fifth and sixth graders at Girls Inc. and St. Joseph elementary school.
 

My partner and I held an awards banquet for the class where we honored essay and art contest winners. The prompt of the essay was to write about the importance of medicine safety and why it should be taught to the community. For the art contest, students were to make a poster of something they learned from the class, stressing the importance of medicine safety. One of the winners from the essay contest wrote about how I, Miss Lizzy, had impacted her and her classmates. It made me feel good to see that my work was actually reaching the students. And they liked me! A lot of the kids really enjoyed an activity where we showed them the difference between using household spoons to take medicines and the actual medicine device that medicine comes with. Many of the students had taken medicine with spoons before, so naturally, they were surprised by what a huge difference it makes. We are currently working on training other youth council members so the OTC Medicine Safety program can reach as many of Shelby County’s youth as possible.
         

Our youth council has also come up with a way to beautify our town while also spreading a notable message for everyone. On October 22, we will be “Planting the Promise” to stand against drug and alcohol abuse in Shelby County. We will be planting tulips in one of our local parks. The tulips will sprout beautifully in the spring. We will be a spreading a stronger message not only by making our parks prettier, but by allowing a chance for community involvement. We are leaving our mark in a positive way! 
        

All of the schools will be participating in Red Ribbon week starting on the 24th of October in their own way. Some of the schools will be having spirit weeks to emphasize the importance of being drug free in a fun way. One of our schools, Triton Central, will be having a wall contest, in which each grade will decorate a wall that promotes being drug free. Each school district participated in an essay contest for elementary through middle school aged students. The prompt of the essay was to tell how you can be a superhero in everyday life. One student wrote about her experience of trying to get her dad to stop smoking. “If I limit the number of places for him to smoke, I am hoping that will discourage him from smoking,” she said. The act itself may help save her father from a short life.
 

All month, the coalition has been prepping towards our annual Red Ribbon breakfast. The breakfast consists of delicious food, a guest speaker, and recognition of the essay winners. And as you guessed it, the theme this year is everyday superheroes. We are working to celebrate and recognize all of the unnoticed, yet noble, local superheroes in our community. The only way to make a change is to be the change. We were inspired by the local superheroes. Our youth is hoping to inspire the community in the same way.
 

Elizabeth Clark is a 12th grade student at Shelbyville High School in Shelbyville, Indiana.