Updated 06/21/2012 08:56 PM
Middle schoolers learn to say no to drugs
Some Montgomery County middle school students are kicking off their summer break, 20 feet in the air. As YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, military members are finding fun ways of teaching kids to say no to drugs.
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FONDA, N.Y. -- A group of students chant, "Say no to drugs."
It's a simple message, with a serious meaning. That's why members of the National Guard Drug Task Program joined Fonda-Fultonville middle schoolers at their end of the year carnival.
National Guard Sergeant Ernesto Morales said, "We're here to talk to kids about the negative effect of drugs and alcohol, while bringing them up the rock wall."
Morales tells us, climbing the 20 foot wall symbolizes overcoming obstacles for students, like saying no to peer pressure.
"I think any parent of a middle schooler would tell you that their friends are the most important influence on their life, no matter what we try to do," said Fonda-Fultonville Middle School Principal Beth Donovan.
"We're getting to an age where we're getting introduced to this stuff, and it's not good to be a part of it," said seventh grade student, Daniel Parslow.
The program has reached more than 8,000 middle school students, nationwide - teaching drug prevention through team building exercises, while challenging students to step outside their comfort zone.
Morales told us, "We do rock wall. We do low-rope challenges, which is like team building exercises. We have fatal vision goggles that we bring to school."
Fifth grader Alexys Conti said, "It was challenging because I went on the harder side, and I'm short, so it was hard to get my hands where they need to be, but I made it."
The program emphasizes on 5th through 8th grade students, instilling the 'say no' attitude, before they head off to high school.
"It taught me that you need to face things that you're not really prepared for," said fifth grade student Matthew Bowler.