Every year the holidays roll in like a freight train – parties, family gatherings, holiday hustle and bustle. But after the holiday reverie, family-friendly activities are truly evergreen because they can protect your kids from drugs year round.
Think family, friends and time together. Eating dinner together as a family is one of the best and simplest ways to keep youth from engaging in risky behaviors, like drugs. Stay involved: talk, they do hear you. Youth listen to what parents say; dinner time or driving back and forth to activities (remember, they’re a captive audience!) are great times to launch the conversation. Finally, get your kids involved in sports, extracurricular activities, youth groups.
Involved youth are also less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Recent surveys show Collier County youth have more opportunities than ever to be involved in school-based activities. In fact, Collier County youth are more likely to be involved in school sports, band and clubs than their peers statewide, according to the 2016 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey.
Joining the CORE Society clubs at middle and high schools, sponsored by Drug Free Collier, are just one place for youth to engage in safe activities. The youth-based groups focus on fun, safe activities and events throughout the school year. In the fall, CORE youth participated in a host of fall festivals and events. In October, capping off Red Ribbon Week – a week of drug free events – youth were treated to a familyfriendly gathering at Germain Arena to watch the Florida Everblades.
Ikaika “Ike” Alama-Francis, Drug Free Collier’s Community Ambassador, is sharing his great message about the value of being involved and making good choices. Ike has been visiting schools and youth-serving agencies. The retired NFL player is also working closely with CORE youth to increase membership. His appearances have become a popular attraction, welcomed by youth and adults.
Getting involved and staying involved are some of the most important building blocks for keeping youth safe, healthy and drug free. In the science of prevention they’re called protective factors – they literally protect kids from risk factors surrounding them: availability and access to drugs and a culture that seems to say “everyone is doing it.”
In fact, 80.1 percent of Collier County youth say they don’t drink. Similarly, the majority of youth say they are tobacco-free and don’t use marijuana.
So think evergreen. The more you make a habit of dinners together, talking with your kids early and often and spending time together as a family, the more skills you give kids to stay drug free.
Drug Free Collier also has tools to help your family. Information and resources top the list:
- Hidden in Plain Sight: a traveling exhibit set up as a teen’s room to educate parents and adults about potential hidden dangers – is that stuffed animal hiding drugs?
- CORE Clubs: in partnership with the Collier County Public Schools we’re working hard to get one in every middle and high school. Don’t have one? Give us a call at 239.302.6717. • Speakers, such as Ike, whose messages about staying safe and making good choices engage his audences.
- notMYkid: Drug Test kits to check if youth are using drugs or even as a prevention tool making it easier for them to tell their peers, “Sorry, I can’t – my parents drug-test me.”
- Your Life Matters cards: pocket-sized cards listing treatment services and family support groups.
We’ve been around since 2005 uniting the community to protect children from substance abuse. That’s a job that is year-round. You might say it’s evergreen. For more information about Drug Free Collier, contact us at 239.302.6717.