EHOVE Career Center, Norwalk Catholic School and Norwalk City Schools now offer students membership in Drug Free Clubs of America (DFCA).
“Our three schools selected Drug Free Clubs of America because it is a proactive, student-led option to help address the issue of drug use in our community,” EHOVE Assistant Director Matt Ehrhardt said.
“We saw a need to provide students with more opportunities to make the right choices and recognize their impact as a student and as part of the workforce. DFCA supports those goals because it is based on positive reinforcement and positive outcomes.”
Norwalk Economic Development Corp. (NEDC) is helping facilitate the effort between the schools and make connections to area businesses, and acquired funding for the DFCA services in Norwalk from Huron County Mental Health and Addiction Services.
“Direct involvement by our community and area businesses is crucial, so they are being invited to join our efforts right from the start. We are actively searching for incentive sponsors and mentors to develop professional relationships and guidance for students who join DFCA and maintain clean drug test results,” NEDC Executive Director Heather Horowitz said.
Ehrhardt credits Horowitz with helping the three schools initiate connections with business and industry.
“We’re all working together to make connections with the students, their parents, business owners and the entire community because it affects all of us," Ehrhardt said. “Administrators from all three of our schools are working with community organizations and business connections too. Jen West from Firelands Regional Medical Center has been instrumental in bringing more partners on board as well."
Most schools average about 25 percent in their student sign-up rate. EHOVE, Norwalk Catholic and Norwalk city schools are all setting their sights much higher, even in this initial phase. Each is planning a kickoff and event to introduce the program to the students and help them understand the importance.
Wayne Campbell from Tyler’s Light was the featured speaker at each school’s kickoff event, which took place Wednesday and Thursday.
Tyler’s Light is a non-profit organization named for Campbell’s son, Tyler, an accomplished high school and college athlete. After a sports injury, Tyler was prescribed painkillers after a surgery. This resulted in addiction, which led to heroin and a fatal overdose. Campbell and a large number of volunteers with Tyler’s Light, are now dedicated to educating youth and community about these issues through live presentations.
After each event, information will be sent home with students. For Norwalk City Schools, 1,200 students in grades seven through 12 will be able to register and Norwalk Catholic Schools has 260 students in the same grades. All of EHOVE’s 883 students, in grades 10 through 12, will be able to register as well.
Students who complete registration with parental approval will undergo initial drug testing later in September. Firelands Regional and Fisher-Titus medical centers have offered their services, at no charge, to conduct the testing services.
Throughout the school year, DFCA will provide educational tools and random drug testing of members will be conducted. Students who maintain a membership by remaining drug-free will receive rewards such as free entrance to athletic events and gift cards from area businesses, by showing their membership card at area businesses. They will also be able to include it on their resume when applying with potential employers.
EHOVE is having a celebration event on campus sponsored by Janotta & Herner.
Students who become members can show their card Sept. 14 for:
• Featured speakers: Bubba’s Q Owners and Shark Tank deal makers Al “Bubba” Baker (a former Detroit Lion and Cleveland Brown) and his daughter, Brittani Bo Baker; Joey Supina of Sandusky Artisans; and Tony Legando, of Firelands Regional Medical Center
• Great food including boneless barbecue ribs from Bubba’s Q
• Inflatables and other outdoor activities provided by the U.S. Army, National Guard and Air Force
“Janotta & Herner is excited to be a major partner of EHOVE’s Drug Free Club of America Program this year,” vice president Jason Ott said.
“As a drug-free workplace ourselves, we see a huge value in programs like this because of the impact they have on the local workforce of tomorrow. We know that the students who participate in this program will not only be more prepared for their future careers, but they will go on to lead happier, healthier lives as well.”
If a student doesn’t pass a drug test, DFCA will work directly with the student and his or her family to help them return to a healthy lifestyle. A student’s membership card is revoked until he or she can pass again. School officials aren’t notified of test results.
More information about DFCA is available at www.drugfreeclubs.com. Parents or students also may call the contact person listed below for their school. Businesses interested in participating as incentive donors or mentors may contact Norwalk Economic Development Corporation or each school’s contact person.
• Matt Ehrhardt, EHOVE: 419-499-4663 ext. 379, [email protected]
• Dennis Doughty, Norwalk Catholic School: 419-668-7223 ext. 241, [email protected],
• Jordy Horowitz, Norwalk Middle School: 419-668-8370, [email protected]
• Nick Lee, NHS: 419-660-6500, [email protected]
• Heather Horowitz, NEDC: 419-668-9858, [email protected]