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Substance Abuse Being Tackled at Wheat Ridge

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Substance Abuse Being Tackled at Wheat Ridge

Photo by Madison Kime

Photo by Madison Kime

Photo by Madison Kime

Madison Kime, Staff Writer

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Substance abuse is the leading cause of death in America.

It is an epidemic that many teens encounter. Wheat Ridge High School is fighting to prevent drug abuse, and nurse Rhonda Valdez is fighting to raise awareness and be a source of information for kids who struggle.
Valdez is running a program called Drug Intervention Services, which she has been running this program solo since August 2017. If a kid has been suspended for having substances on them, Valdez will meet with them to give them resources to help them if they struggle with drug abuse. Valdez also acts as a liaison between families and the kid, as well as between the kid and schools, and other agencies that she may need to contact. She wants the student to be comfortable enough with her so they communicate with her. Through this she can help the kid be successful at school and hopes it will help them outside of school as well.
Valdez also works with teen vaping. Although it might not be as extreme as drug abuse, it is still a rising concern for her. “Colorado has one of the highest vaping rates in the nation” says Valdez. Vaping may not be as critical, but it still causes health issues (especially in young adults) such as cancer, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. Valdez wants both drugs and vaping to be talked about and prevented for the success and health of her students.
Valdez gets paid by a grant from the State of Colorado, and she also works with getting vouchers for kids to get classes who may need them. She gets this money from the Juvenile Assessment Center, last year she got about 2,000 dollars for treatment for students, and this year she has only needed to get 1,700 dollars for classes. The money goes to a class called Youth Drug Assessment
On average Valdez works with 30 to 40 kids a year. This may seem like a high number, but it is only 4% of the population at the school and she is fighting to lower this number year by year. Valdez hopes that her program is useful and offers services to kids who may need it. This program is one step closer to help end this epidemic and help kids succeed in their lives.

Madison Kime, Staff Writer

I'm a funny girl, but no one knows that because I don't talk so that is unfortunate.

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Substance Abuse Being Tackled at Wheat Ridge