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  • Last modified 89 days ago (Feb. 22, 2018)

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School program encourages kids to make safe, healthy choices

Staff writer

School secretary Annette Elliott lacks no passion when it comes to the health, safety, and well-being of Peabody-Burns Junior/Senior High School students. Her enthusiasm led to the recognition that there was a need for more education that involved making positive choices that aided kids in living more safe and healthy lives. After some research, hard work, and assistance from outside sources, she has successfully filled that need with a new organization, and made an impact that has sparked the interest of others in the county.

TADA, or Teens Against Destructive Activities, is an official SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) chapter with a twist.

TADA focuses on the prevention of students making negative choices such as drinking, partaking in drugs, and implementing safe behaviors like wearing seatbelts.

Elliott says she has not only seen a decrease in office referrals, but thinks it’s positive that these kids are introduced to the ideas of living a healthy and safe life.

“I get emotional about this because I feel as if it’s not me, then who?” she said. “I want someone to show these kids that they care. I love these kids.”

TADA is also a member of the Mirrors Inc. organization Youth As Resources, and is the only non-Harvey County program to receive funding from them.

“Mirror has been great,” Elliott said. “They have given us material and helped sponsor our family fun night for middle school students and their parents in April. We had over 85 kids and parents attend.”

In order to participate in the program, students have to be academically eligible and pledge to stay drug and alcohol free. In the contract is also a section for parents to sign that pledges they will offer them safe transportation if they ever feel they are in an unsafe situation, and that they will not drive under the influence themselves.

Highlight moments for the organization include decorating doors at Peabody Elementary School for Red Ribbon Week, a “click-it for cookies” event where students who drove to school with seatbelts on got a cookie, and a Valentine’s Day bulletin board filled with hearts that students wrote positive messages on. Elliott got the idea for the bulletin board from Centre, which has positive messages posted throughout their restrooms. Centre also has shown interest in Peabody’s TADA program.

TADA includes a mentor/mentee program with 22 high school mentors paired with 22 middle schoolers. Members fill out a questionnaire that helps Elliott match the kids with someone they can build a positive and effective bond with.

“There are some kids I know of that used to make bad decisions and now not only make better decisions, but make great mentors to younger students,” she said.

Peabody sophomore Taven Scott was a mentee in eighth grade and now enjoys being a mentor to another student.

“We just hang out and talk about grades, goals, homelife, and just life,” he said. “Someone helped me when I was younger so I guess I just wanted to help someone else.”

Freshman Jasper Talkington enjoys hanging out with his high school mentor.

“My favorite memory so far is the times we played Jenga. We get along really well and always have a great time,” he said.

The mentoring program recently caught the attention of Marion County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. The coalition hopes to have a presentation from students at one of its meetings.

“These kids are all heroes in my eyes,” said Elliott. “Whether vocally in front of people or just from their heart. They’re starting to realize if you feel good about yourself then you in turn, do better at home and school.”

TADA might only involve students, but Elliott has faith that positive choices and their effects can seep out into the community and can create a chain reaction.

“So many adults try to catch kids doing bad things, so the kids feel that’s the expectation,” she said. “If you try to catch them doing good things it makes a huge difference.”

Plans for the future include extending TADA down to the grade school to implement character development at younger ages.

Elliott also feels the community affects the children just the same, and is planning for a May event where members from the community emphasize opportunities offered during the summer time including The Hub, swimming pool, and recreation commission. The police will also be present to offer advice to assist kids in having a safe summer.

“Peabody can be such a caring and loving town, I think it’s important that they wrap that around the kids and teach them to pay it forward.”

Last modified Feb. 22, 2018

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