Building an anti-drug culture one t-shirt at a time

Sheriff’s office brings drug education to county schools with free shirts – 

Story and photo by Patricia Beech – 

In a continuing effort to reduce drug use through prevention, Sheriff Kimmy Rogers’ office last week distributed nearly 3,000 t-shirts to all the elementary students in the county’s four schools.
“Students from each of the schools designed the shirts, then we got four of our inmates to make them,” Rogers said. “We have been distributing them this week and getting pictures done to show how proud we are of these kids.”

Students at West Union Elementary model their drug-free t-shirts.

The shirts were paid for from funds forfeited to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office from drug case convictions. Rogers said the cost of encouraging kids to stay away from drugs early costs less than treating them as drug addicts later.
“It takes about $17,000 to send one drug addict through treatment in the STAR program,” Rogers said. “On the other hand, it cost us about $12,000 for the shirts and $4,000 for our Boot Camp, to get the word out to kids how drugs impact their lives.”

“Hugs, Not Drugs” was the theme at Peebles Elementary.

Elementary students wearing the anti-drug message t-shirts gathered outside each of their schools to greet Rogers, who was trailed by Channel 12 News from Cincinnati.
“Who are you? ” he asked the K-6 students who replied by calling out the names of their schools in unison.
“What are you?” he asked again.
“Drug free,” they shouted.
“Who is going to end the drug problem in Adams County?”
“We are,” they answered enthusiastically.
PHS senior Story Kremin, designer of the red “Be a Hug Dealer Not a Drug Dealer” t-shirt called the experience “amazing”.
“We have a very serious drug problem in our county, and I’m really proud to be a part of Sheriff Roger’s campaign to end drug abuse,” she said. “If we can teach kids when they’re young, it could help them make smart decisions when they get older.”

Adams County Sheriff Kimmy Rogers speaks to students at North Adams Elementary on the first stop of his four-school tour last Friday. spreading his anti-drug mesage to the county’s youth.

Rogers said involving high school students that K-6 kids look up to is an effective way to present the anti-drug message.
“When kids in elementary school see a senior like Story who is popular in school, and she’s there wearing one of their shirts – it makes a difference,” Rogers said.
The slogans featured on each of the t-shirts were: “The Greyhound Way…Absolutely, PAWS-atively Drug Free Manchester”, “Be Drug Free at NAE” (North Adams), and “Drug Free is the Way to Be” (West Union), and “Be a Hug Dealer Not a Drug Dealer” (Peebles).
“If a couple of kids are wearing these t-shirts, no one pays attention,” said a West Union Elementary student, “But if you have thousands, then everyone will notice them, everyone will get the message.”
For information on how to donate to any of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office youth programs contact Rogers at (937) 544-2314.