Feb 3, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterIn celebration of National Drug Facts Week, students from Arapahoe Middle School were encouraged to be drug and alcohol free and learned about the dangers of substance abuse.
The assembly-style presentations were organized by the Eastern Shoshone Cross Age Peer Education project.
Motivational speakers were invited to inspire peer leadership, encourage healthy communities and share information about the risks of using drugs.
Motivational speaker Chance Rush of Tulsa, Okla., got the students laughing with jokes and games before quizzing them on drug facts.
Rush relayed national statistics that said most teenagers did not know the real effects of prescription drugs, and teens often are led instead by what they have heard from drug users.
He said the use of OxyContin -- a prescription painkiller that is often abused and used to get high -- can lead some addicts to heroin use.
Recording artist, disc jockey and youth advocate Marcus Anthony Guinn told students that in one study, 38 marijuana smokers were observed over a period of time and were found to lose permanently an average of eight IQ points.
Rush encouraged the students to break the stereotypes often placed on the American Indian population and ignore peer pressure and bad influences.
"It's not a bad thing to want to grow up alcohol and drug-free," he said. "You're the ones that are going to lead the way ... own the youth movement."
He added that being sober has opened him up to many opportunities.
ESCAPE project director Clarence Thomas told students that the program is changing training locations to accommodate those who participate in afterschool activities. He pointed out some ESCAPE mentors and candidates who were committing to the project's mission.
"We help you to help others," Thomas said, adding that the program trains students on how to mentor younger children and help them live a positive lifestyle.
Presentations also were given at St. Stephen's Indian School, Fort Washakie School and at a community event at Rocky Mountain Hall. The national weeklong effort lasts through Sunday.
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