Red Ribbon Week got underway Monday at R.C. Hill Elementary School with two guest speakers talking to students about the importance of being drug free and the importance of physical and dental health.
Officer Aaron Thompson of the Romeoville Police Department, who serves as a DARE officer in VVSD middle schools, emphasized the need to stay in school, stay busy, study and listen to parents.
“When I was a kid, it was hard for me to say no. They would tell me come on man, everyone’s doing it,” he said. “When you hear someone say everyone is doing it, that’s the biggest lie in the book. It’s a trick. Don’t ever fall for that.”
Officer Thompson took a close look at a variety of issues students will face as they get older, pointing out “It’s not just your health, but your grades will also be affected if you get involved with drugs or alcohol.”
Regarding tobacco products: “Tobacco causes a lot of health problems. It’s so addictive. It’s hard to quit. 400,000 Americans lose their life every year to some tobacco-related illness. The best thing to do is not start in the first place.”
On the topic of alcohol: “Alcohol is a very common, widely used drug that’s legal for people of a certain age. About 75,000 deaths a year are related to alcohol in this country, whether it’s someone’s health or something like drunk driving.”
As for prescription drug abuse: “Unfortunately people take prescription drugs and they abuse them. Sometimes it’s just simply taking too much. Taking your brother or sister’s medication would be abuse too because it’s not for you.”
“Not every kid who smokes a cigarette or drinks a beer goes on to heavier drugs, but those who are addicted on heavier drugs all started with the small stuff,” Officer Thompson said. “That’s why we’re talking to you. We want to prevent that. How do you prevent yourself from going down this road? Hang out with people who don’t do it.”
Jennifer Pittman from Valley View Dental told students how important it is “to eat healthy and take care of your teeth,” pointing out both good snacks and bad snacks.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of brushing and flossing,” she said, as she explained the best way is to brush twice a day for at least two minutes each time. “You will lower your risk of getting cavities.”