Leave no one behind

Monday, September 16, 2002

Students, teachers and administrators at LCS and Gehlen filled the air with what has become a mantra for the modern age: "Just say no to drugs and alcohol."

The Le Mars Optimist Club sponsored the assemblies as an ongoing part of the service organization's battle against substance abuse. Craig Hillier, a motivational speaker from Minnesota, encouraged the students to demonstrate "three other R's" of resilience, respect and responsibility. They can learn to take responsibility for their actions and resist peer pressure.

Taking responsibility for your actions. Treating others as you would like to be treated. They sound like such a simple things, don't they? What was once presumed to be expected behavior now needs to be reinforced, and in some cases, introduced to our youth. Look how far we have to go.

In the early 1980s, First Lady Nancy Reagan introduced the "Just Say No" concept as a response to drug and alcohol abuse. It was dismissed by many as being too simplistic. Some predicted that more radical approaches would be needed, and that in order to save a generation of children, we would have to write off a generation as being lost forever.

Funny thing about children, they seem to have this nasty habit of growing up to be adults - adults who have children who they exert great influence over. The whole notion of writing off a generation to save the next is doomed to fail, perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

The more a message can be reinforced, the more likely it is to stick with someone. We applaud the efforts of the Le Mars Optimist Club and the warm reception given to them by the staff and administration of our schools. We encourage parents to reinforce the messages of resilience, respect and responsibility and model these behaviors at home, as well as work.

Until we all do these seemingly simple things, we will never be free of substance abuse.