SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Area students are being asked to encourage their peers to avoid substance abuse, by joining a coalition.
The 417 SQUAD, organized by Community Partnership of the Ozarks, is being rebuilt this year.
Organizers said SQUAD stands for students questioning using and abusing drugs.
CPO Prevention Specialist, Anna Jones, said the SQUAD started back in 2014.
“What the squad is all about is really preventing substance use and other risky conduct among their peers,” Jones said. “Also, promoting healthy choices and mental wellness.”
Getting students to spread the message, Jones said, is the critical part.
“What we really know based on the science is having that youth voice at the table, it takes us leaps and bounds further than we can get just as grown-ups,” Jones said.
Jones said the pandemic forced the SQUAD to fall apart.
“We kind of had to pump the brakes on meetings and activities and so we’re trying to get back in the swing of things,” Jones said.
She said that means getting about 20 to 30 sixth through 12th graders to join the group.
Former member, Katelynn Palmer, said she hopes people will consider joining.
“We helped with the collection of pills, we got it out there like hey we’re doing this thing bring your pills or your substance and get rid of it, like you don’t need it,” Palmer said.
Palmer said she currently works in the medical field and understands why these anti-drug messages are needed.
“I see overdose over overdose,” Palmer said. “From the outside as a health care worker being like okay these are happening; this is what we need to do like we need to get this under control or else we’re gonna have kids in here. We do see kids and it’s heartbreaking.”
Jones said they’re looking for students from various schools in the area to get involved.
The first SQUAD meeting will take place on Oct. 16 at CPO. To learn more about how to get involved, click here.