DOBSON — When local students recently were invited to use their creative talents to develop “My Natural High” posters, sharing why they choose to be substance-free, a variety of reasons were pictured.
For example, Dakota Eads of East Surry High School came up with a musical theme for his poster, showing sheets of music and notes, a trombone resting on a chair and the caption “My natural high — why waste away when there is music to be played.”
Josh Combs of Mount Airy Middle School took a more mosaic approach, with his colorful poster showing a soccer ball adorned with words such as “friends,” “family” and “fun.” Surrounding the ball are small pictures of a movie camera and chessboard.
“A natural high is a hobby or something that makes you happy,” Josh explained in a caption accompanying his work.
“So when I heard that this was our prompt I thought of soccer, my family, my friends, movies, chess and the place where I grew up in North Carolina.”
Those were just some of the winning concepts that emerged from students in Mount Airy, Surry County and Elkin schools through an annual poster contest sponsored by the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse (NCAPDA) with the theme of “My Natural High.”
The local contest resulted in the submission of more than 30 posters, with the creators vying for cash prizes of $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third.
In all, six students were awarded, three each at the high school and middle school levels.
Meadowview Magnet Middle School and Elkin High School each produced two of the six finalists, in addition to the winning entries from Mount Airy Middle and East Surry High schools.
Contest winners were recognized earlier this week by NCAPDA representatives during an awards program held at Surry County Health and Nutrition Center in Dobson. It was led by the organization’s North Carolina area director, Frankie Andrews, and its national executive director from California, April Rovero.
The National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse works to prevent abuse among students and adults of all ages, and the annual poster contest is one of the ways it increases awareness about prescription drug dangers.
That was reflected in this year’s contest theme of “My Natural High,” with students required to submit posters that demonstrated what activities or other influences help keep them substance-free.
Before accepting their cash prizes and recognition certificates at the award ceremony, contest winners were asked to describe their poster and how it illustrates what helps them avoid substance-abuse entanglements. In addition to music and family, they mentioned cheerleading and sports as chief influences.
Andrews added Thursday that the posters’ messages will extend far beyond Surry County. “They will be used in future events at the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, as we need to share them.”
Rovero, the NCAPDA’s national executive director, gave a short educational presentation during the ceremony, attended by contest winners and their parents, before presenting the awards.
“One way all of us can help put an end to our national prescription drug abuse epidemic is for us to lock up medications in our homes and properly dispose of those that are expired or no longer needed,” Rovero told the gathering.
Andrews, the NCAPDA’s North Carolina area director, added that medications can be dropped off during normal business hours at local police stations. Recently the Mount Airy Police Department collected its 1 millionth dosage unit at a drop box in the police station lobby which was implemented in late 2011.
Aids big picture
Karen Eberdt, coordinator of Project Lazarus-Surry, a coalition that is combating prescription medication abuse and misuse, said activities such as the NCAPDA student poster contest play a key role in the coalition’s overall mission.
“I can’t say enough nice things about them,” Eberdt said Friday of the students who created the posters. “They are so worthy.”
The Project Lazarus coordinator also appreciated the fact that all three school systems in Surry engaged their students in the contest, reflecting educators’ ongoing support for battling prescription abuse and misuse in a county that had 43 overdose deaths in 2015.
It also was gratifying to see the parents of the students at the awards program, Eberdt said, noting the important role of family support in preventing substance abuse.
“I think that’s going to make all the difference in the world.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.