The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 16, 2014

Articles change lives

By MELINDA KAPALIN
For the Star Beacon

— It has been a little over five years since I started writing this column. That’s over 200 articles about prevention and education regarding all aspects of our lives.

There are topics that give information and additional resources. There are also stories of addiction and bullying that make us think.

Some of the articles get people talking. Teachers tell me that they use an article in class to bring up difficult subjects. It might be one on cyberbullying and the class is asked to write how that affects them personally.

It might be one on binge drinking or drugs that a health teacher might read to her students. Being able to bring up current topics to talk about with teens is important.

I have had students come to talk to me after a presentation and share how alcohol, drugs, or bullying has affected him or her. It can be emotional and a little scary to talk about but afterwards they tell me they feel better and even begin to make a plan to address the issue.

When a parent stops me in a store or event in our community to tell me how they appreciate this column, I feel grateful. I am honored that they share their personal stories with me and how an article was helpful.

Some stories are painful but the parent is also hopeful for better days. I may only hear a small part of a person’s struggle with an addicted family member but the burden is now shared and maybe it is a little easier to go on.

Writing about addictions, bullying and life in our community is not always easy. Ashtabula County has had its share of bad news on the front pages of the newspaper.

Reports on meth labs, heroin arrests, and students who report bullying incidents are all topics for concern in our community.

The fight against drugs, addiction, bullying and crime is an ongoing, never ending battle. But life in our community can get better when we support our law enforcement efforts, judicial process, and rehabilitation efforts to change lives.

The more we support these efforts in Ashtabula County, the better the outcomes.

That is why it is important that we continue the education and prevention efforts here in our county, the state of Ohio, and our country.

New research is already showing the positive effects that educational campaigns to reduce underage drinking is having among our youth.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention have been tracking student’s behavior for over 20 years. These current statistics are a positive change.

Without the efforts of dedicated professionals who educate students and parents about the dangers of alcohol, drugs, bullying, tobacco, and other risky behaviors, the results of the survey would not be as encouraging.

We want our children to live happy and healthy lives. Educating them in good prevention practices against destructive behaviors is necessary.

Thank you for taking the time to read this column. Share it with your family and friends who might need the information.

Check out the resources it provides throughout the year to learn more about addictions, drugs, alcohol or bullying.

Education is a life-long process that can give you new ideas, new information, and show you the steps to change your life.

Remember, education and prevention are keys to keeping our community safe and drug-free.