By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has given the Redmond-based CLEAR Alliance an award for Outstanding Public Safety/Public Health Collaborative Effort.
The award was recognition for the progress the organization has made in educating students about the risks of drug use.
“Often what we hear the most in class is, I didn’t know that, I had no idea, why don’t we hear about this?” said CLEAR Alliance Executive Director Mandi Puckett.
Four years ago, CLEAR Alliance tested out a marijuana education program at Redmond High School, with the help of Health Teacher Angela Capps.
“This is my 25th year of teaching, and this is the first time we’ve had any kind of marijuana education curriculum,” Capps said. “We usually get stuck with health textbooks that have a paragraph that mentions anything about it. Things have changed so much that it’s impossible to stay updated with a health textbook.”
Since then, the nonprofit has expanded their three-hour program to include education about tobacco, e-cigarettes and driving under the influence.
They’ve trained more than 170 instructors to teach the course in 32 counties across Oregon.
“I have given shout-outs to everyone I know in the health world about this curriculum because if we could get this program into every health classroom across Oregon, it would be tremendous,” Capps said.
The program teaches students fact-based risks of using drugs — which is education Capps says is badly needed, especially with the legalization of marijuana and recent the vaping boom.
Puckett hopes get the program into other states and keep the education relevant as the way drugs are consumed continues to evolve.
“I think listening to the youth voice, listening to teacher’s voices, has made this program really strong,” Puckett said.