MACEDONIA, OH (WOIO) - The Macedonia Police Department and the Nordonia Hills City School District have teamed up to provide free drug testing kits to parents and guardians of students during Red Ribbon Week Oct. 23-31.
The week-long campaign focuses on alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention awareness.
"We look at all of our students like all of our kids and it's devastating to us and this community if we lose any of them and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that doesn't happen," said Nordonia High School Principal Casey Wright.
The free kits are available at the guidance counselor's office at the high school, middle school and Lee Eaton Elementary School.
"If they know the test is available, students are less likely to engage in illegal drugs because they know their parents can come in and get that test at any time they want," Wright said.
The program is called SHIELD and the goal is to provide parents and guardians with a tool to see if their child is in harm's way. The kits are free to any parents or guardians of students in the district.
"Research indicates that parents and guardians are the number one factor to deter the onset of drug and alcohol use," a school district release said. "Nordonia Hills City Schools, in cooperation with the Macedonia Police Department, would like to add a tool to assist parents and guardians."
Parents in the community said they were a bit surprised to hear about the drug tests, but they're supportive of the school district's proactive approach.
"I see it as a step. I'm not sure it's a solution, but, again, I think when you have an epidemic like this you're forced to take action," said parent Don "Nick" Nichols.
"I think it's good for the community, just to keep the area safe," said parent Gina Gammiere.
The heroin epidemic in Ohio takes lives daily. In the first six months of 2017, 1,269 drug overdoses were treated in emergency rooms that service people in or near Summit County.
Of those, 15 percent were ages 18-24. In zip codes 44056 and 44067 there were 33 drug overdoses.
Unintentional drug overdose deaths continue to be the leading cause of injury-related death in Ohio.
According to a press release, Nordonia Hills City Schools said it has several programs that address a drug problem through prevention and intervention of the use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and violence, by education, activities, curricula, and through the development and maintenance of a strong local referral and resource network.
Programs and activities, such as:
• Drug, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Violence Youth-Led Prevention groups
• Social-Emotional Learning and Life Skills Curricula
• Wide range of extracurricular and co-curricular activities and clubs
• District-wide education campaigns
• HS as a community location for local NA and FA meetings
• Counseling staff that includes a licensed alcohol and drug counselor
For more information, email Dr. Deb Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org.