As we usher in the new school year, it’s an opportune time to learn more about a commendable drug prevention program now in place at both Liberty high schools. It’s called “Finding Reasons To Exercise Safe Habits” or FRESH. From the start, FRESH was implemented with a twofold purpose:

1) to create positive peer pressure among high school youth to avoid using alcohol or other drugs, and

2) to mentor younger students and urge them to realize they can successfully “fit in” by making healthy choices and being drug-free.

Through their middle and high school years, students are encouraged to apply to the FRESH program, wherein they must sign a pledge to themselves, each other, coaches, school, and the community to remain alcohol and drug-free. Within this pledge, clear expectations and consequences are outlined that students must adhere to for the remainder of the school year. While wearing their activity uniform, all pledging students have individual photos taken, which are then printed on trading cards. To help students feel further invested in their FRESH pledge, the cards also include their personal statement explaining why they are drug-free.

Throughout the year, high school students meet with students at the elementary and middle schools to personally distribute these trading cards. In this way, the program serves to mentor younger students and share a positive message about FRESH students’ commitment to be drug and alcohol-free.

It’s important to note that accountability remains the critical component of this much-needed program. First and foremost, the FRESH pledge serves as an effective deterrent against drug use, committing youths to remain drug and alcohol- free. In addition, this pledge holds students responsible for their behavior as mentors, encouraging them to continue serving as positive role models and staying drug-free.

Now more than ever, especially given growing drug and alcohol problems among youth, LAFY applauds and supports the efforts of this vital program in the Liberty schools.