“Ideally, we want a completely drug-free community,” said Loveland Middle School eighth grader Amelia Macura

By Susanne Quigley, Loveland Schools

On Tuesday November 26, Loveland Educating Against Alcohol and Drugs (LEAAD) Youth Ambassadors from Loveland Middle School (LMS) met with Governor Mike DeWine during one of his stops to learn about drug prevention programs in school districts across the state. In the offices of PreventionFIRST! – formerly the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati – the students presented their work and ideas around drug prevention efforts in the schools.

“Ideally, we want a completely drug-free community,” said Loveland Middle School eighth grader Amelia Macura as she presented to a group of students from Anderson, Deer Park and Norwood and several officials accompanying the Governor, including Senator Rob Portman and Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas. “In Loveland, we try to do that by building a stronger community for each other, with students supporting students and reducing negative peer pressure. We try to build each other up to become stronger together as a community.”

The Governor has taken measures to end the Ohio drug epidemic since he took office in January 2019, and previously led efforts to combat the drug crisis as the state’s attorney general. While he mostly let the students speak at the meeting, he mentioned the funds in the state biennium budget earmarked for prevention education efforts in the schools. “Prevention Services Funding Opportunity FY 2020” is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Ohio Department of Education to empower local communities in their efforts to build resiliency and reduce risk factors. Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, Children’s Initiatives Director LeeAnne Cornyn, and RecoveryOhio Director Alisha Nelson all accompanied DeWine on his trip to Cincinnati.

Four of the LEAAD Youth Ambassadors had met with Governor DeWine earlier this year, when they attended the “We Are The Majority Rally” in Columbus. They came together with more than 2,000 other teens from across the state to celebrate that the majority of youth in Ohio are now choosing to stay alcohol and drug free and are leading the prevention efforts across the state.

“At Loveland, these efforts are becoming increasingly student-led, which is significant,” said LEAAD Coordinator Katie Sedziol. “Our Youth Ambassadors are inspired to develop and implement their own ideas to create positive change within their community. They focus their energy toward positive action and are the driving force in planning the activities and events that are impactful for other students.”  

Photo caption (images 1 &2): Governor Mike DeWine listened to LEAAD Youth Ambassadors from Loveland Middle School as they discuss their thoughts about drug prevention efforts in the schools. 

Photo caption 3: LEAAD Youth Ambassadors Savannah Jones and Amelia Macura addressed the group about drug prevention efforts at Loveland Schools.

Photo caption 4: Senator Rob Portman and Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas talked about the importance of making smart decisions and avoiding the “funnel of addiction.”