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Red Ribbon Week will be wrapped up in a bow on Monday

BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI) - Red Ribbon week is almost over The National Drug Awareness Week starts Oct. 23 and ends after Halloween. The goal is to help encourage teens to be drug-free and safe. The Community Youth in Action group will be hosting a Red Ribbon Rally on Monday, Oct. 30 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for teens celebrating being drug free.

"We're going to be walking along the street to all the way from our Fourth Street building on 574, fourth Street to the up to 17th, and then just kind of hang out there a couple of minutes and back. We have all types of really neat signs that the kids have made about being drug-free. They're going to have a giant red ribbon that they're going to carry. At the end of the event, we're going to wrap our building as a kind of the center hub of Idaho Falls where a lot of the community-wide drug prevention efforts take place," Community Youth in Action program director Marco Erickson said.

Currently, the Community Youth in Action has 300 kids involved with their program. 80% of them have been drug-free and have not interacted with substances before, but Erickson said the 20% of them that have, are in good hands while they start their road to recovery.

"One of the greatest things is, we provide them a space to belong and to just be themselves. And their history doesn't matter. We really just have to move forward from where they're at now. And so we do a lot of education and a lot of workshops and training and leadership development and give them opportunities to use those skills, not just teach it, but give them the opportunity to serve in their community, recognize their value, and give back in a big way," Erickson said.

Sergeant Bryan Lovell said most commonly teens are getting into THC through vape.

"We've definitely seen an increase in vaping for one. And then also THC use associated with vaping, vapes with THC in them, and also the marijuana waxes and oils and things like that. We've seen an increase in that over the last several years, especially in and around our schools," Sergeant Lovell said.

Sergeant Lovell added School Resource Officers commonly seize 5-12 vapes a week in District 93 schools.

"And probably one or two or three out of every ten is testing positive for the presence of THC. And so in addition to that, our patrol guys are they're making traffic stops and seizing those vape cartridges and vaping devices and, interacting with our juveniles in that realm as well," Sergeant Lovell said.

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound commonly found in marijuana that gives the user their high. In vapes, it can be found either through the wax or oils used.

Sergeant Lovell also mentioned fentanyl might be coming into schools as well. While it hasn't been pinpointed in anything they have found in the county yet, it could still be a present, as it is definitely in our area.

Sergeant Lovell shared how the sheriff's office runs a quality DARE program to help educate kids about the dangers of drug abuse.

"It's more important than ever for our DARE program to you know, be solid. And so I've you know, part of my team is teaching the DARE program in District 93 and a few other schools and there are DARE programs up and down this side of the state," Sergeant Lovell said.

Sergeant Lovell and Erickson shared how parents and community members can help teens stay drug-free and safe from harmful substances. Erickson added, that it starts with a circle around the teen and their family.

"It's a thing that affects everyone. So as a community at large, we're all here to work together to help and stop the teams from doing that. Because if in theory, you stop teens in the future, we'll have a much better, stronger generation that's, substance-free. And that's kind of the key," Erickson said.

"They need to have a conversation with their kids and talk to them about the dangers of these things," Sergeant Lovell said.

Erickson echoed Sergeant Lovell's words and added you should keep this conversation going no matter how old your children are.

"The number one thing I tell parents is to have a conversation on a regular basis. So just never stop talking about when you see an article about a situation where there was a substance abuse problem in the community or a person had gotten in trouble from doing something related to substance abuse, drunk driving, have conversations with your kids about those things, and never stop. Because what happens is, as the kids age and turn into older high school teens, they tell us that their parents stopped talking to them about those issues. And we say, don't do that," Erickson said.

Erickson also added by continuing to have that conversation with your kids you are also continuing to let them know what your values on the issue are.

Sergeant Lovell also said by taking these steps in the home, you can keep your kids on the right path.

"That's probably one of the most important things to do. It's taking those steps in the home and in so that it doesn't trickle out into society and create things like victims and morph into other criminal activity and things like that. So I would say my biggest message to parents would be, start with yourselves and start in your own home and talk to your kids and educate yourselves about the dangers of these drugs," Sergeant Lovell said.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Braydon Wilson


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