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How Activities Can Keep Your Kids Healthy and Drug-free

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When parents think of summertime, many of them don’t just think of watermelon, sunshine, and the Fourth of July – they’re thinking about their kids’ packed schedules. Summertime is a prime time for many extracurricular activities including baseball and soccer, and that’s a good thing because keeping your kids busy with healthy extracurricular activities is one step toward keeping them away from drugs and alcohol.

According to the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS), youth who participate in extracurricular activities are 1.5 times less likely to misuse prescription drugs, two times less likely to have used marijuana in the past 30 days, and two times less likely to have used illicit drugs.

Part of the positive effect of extracurricular activities is simply keeping kids busy. The more time your child is practicing for the big game or an upcoming dance recital, the less time they have to experiment with drugs and alcohol. In addition, with most extracurricular activities, using drugs or alcohol while participating affects their skills in doing the activity to the best of their ability.

Coaches can also be a positive factor in encouraging kids to avoid drugs and alcohol. According to the 2015 HKCS, a student who has a teacher who cares and encourages them is two times less likely to feel sad or hopeless, two times less likely to misuse prescription drugs, and two times less likely to have used alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs. This extends to coaches and other mentors as well. These community figures, who your child looks up to, can help influence them to make healthy choices.

While extracurricular activities can make summer vacations chaotic and busy, they can also serve to keep your child healthy and drug-free. In the community of Aurora, the Aurora Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (ASAP) invites you to join the Summer Wellness Challenge as a way to track positive activities you are doing as a family and encourage increased conversation and quality time over the summer.

To learn more about  ASAP, visit www.asapaurora.org   For further information to help you have some of these important conversations and for more resources on helping your child stay drug and alcohol-free, check out www.speaknowcolorado.org

By Rachel Uslan, LCSW, Program Coordinator for the Aurora Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, in partnership with Mile High Mamas

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