Program promotes drug-free youth

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DOVER - There’s ample reason to live a drug-free, healthy life at any age.

Now there’s a public forum for youths to say why they do.
A new #MyReasonWhyDE campaign that allows juveniles and young adults up to age 25 to record Public Service

Announcements explaining their stance on clean living. Completed videos are posted online at MyReasonWhyDE.com.

Some of the reasons why not to do drugs included, according to participants:

• “My reason why you don’t do drugs is that it cannot only hurt your body but it prevents your mind from being able to do what’s necessary on the basketball court.”

• “My reason why is to set an example for all the kids and my sister who live (around) my street and look up to me because if they see me vaping they would think ‘Oh, that’s cool, I should do that too’ but I’m not a fraud.

“I’m going to keep it real with the kids and say vaping is not good.”

• “(My reason why is) I don’t want to affect my family and friends because of my choice.”

Most of the Public Service Announcements were around 20 to 40 seconds in length.

According to grant manager Kate Capelli of the Division of Public Health, the program’s aim “was to drive home the message of why students believe or why they aspire to be drug free or live resilient lives.”

The videos, Ms. Capelli said, “Can also be why they chose to be positive role models, why they chose to live in a positive light and why they chose to remain drug free.”

A online public workshop was held in August and youth participants were encouraged to record announcements as part of contest.

Award-winners will be announced at a ceremony Thursday at the Bellevue Theater in Wilmington’s Bellevue Community Center.

Additional announcements are welcome. Free training on how to post videos is available on the website.

The program is part of a five-year Strategic Prevention Framework for Prescription drugs grant that has $384,000 annually to allocate. Ms. Capelli said the aim is to connect with community organizations that are focused on the well-being of youths.

“My goal as grant manager is to make sure these funds get into the hands of adults that are working with the kids,” she said.

“They’re the ones that know what the kids need, they’re the ones that are with the kids on a constant basis.

“So I try to use every penny to go into programs so that they can actually affect the kids.”

A Division of Public Health news release said that according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2018-19, approximately 4% of all people aged 12 and older used an illicit drug (not including marijuana) in the past month in Delaware.

Broken down by age, 2.44% of Delaware youth between ages 12 to 17, 6.67% of adults ages 18 to 25, and 3.79% of adults aged 26 and older reported using an illicit drug such as cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or methamphetamine, or misusing prescription psychotherapeutics in the past month.

The 2020 Delaware School Survey indicates that 2% of 8th grade students reported use of an illicit drug (other than marijuana) in the past month and 5% within the past year. One in ten students reported misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medication (including pain medication) within the previous year. Yet less than half (46%) of 8th graders reported perceiving a great risk in misusing prescription medication, the news release said.

The Division of Public Health, which operates as part of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, is continuing to look for partners to help grow this message. If interested, contact Ms. Capelli at katie.capelli@delaware.gov.

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