Student athletes create posters, banners to help discourage drug addiction

With vaping and other nicotine-related injuries taking increasing importance, local communities are looking for ways to help educate students on these dangers and how to avoid them.

Carter County Drug Prevention recently began work on a new campaign, bringing dozens of student athletes from both city and county schools to help create banners and posters to go up in various schools in Carter County.

Sixth-grader Riley Jones said the campaign is a way of getting the word out and getting people’s attention.

“Some kids are doing drugs,” Jones said. “We are trying to help them stop.”

The banners serve as kind of motivational posters with empowering messages about staying away from drugs and encouraging friends to do the same.

The photoshoot took place Wednesday night at the Elizabethton High School football field. As part of agreeing to the photoshoot, each of the several dozen athletes also had to sign a petition vowing they would not take drugs, and they would encourage others to avoid them, as well.

Jones said the banners and posters are effective because they catch people’s attention.

“You can put them anywhere you want,” he said. “You can even put them on billboards.”

The subject is one Jones said he is familiar with, as he said fellow classmates had been caught doing drugs in his school roughly a year ago.

“I know some people who struggle with drug addiction,” he said. “You do not just get a disease. It wears down your body.”

He said such problems need to be taken seriously, and the poster campaign aims to highlight that.

“Sometimes people do not believe [it is serious],” Jones said. “They think it is just a cute picture of football players. We want them to take it seriously.”

This kind of mentality, he said, is as misleading as it is damaging.

“It is like putting a knife to your arm and hoping you do not bleed,” he said.

The photoshoot is part of Jones’s first year on CCDP’s Youth Board, though he has worked alongside the organization unofficially in summer camps in the past.

Jones said he hopes campaigns like this will help highlight the real dangers of drug addiction and what it actually does to people, families and communities.

“It will explain what the drugs actually do to them,” Jones said. “They will see how it actually affects them.”

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