ALTAMONT, Kan. — Ray Lozano, who spoke to students at Labette County High School in Altamont today (Monday), says making it relatable to the students, through jokes and stories, is the key.
“There were some things that disgusted me, and I don’t even do anything like that,” said Hudson Baker, Senior, Labette County HS.
The “disgusting thing” Labette County High School senior Hudson Baker is referring to has to do with nicotine.
“He said something about how there’s nicotine in a can of raid, and that’s also what you’re inhaling when you do that stuff, and that really grossed me out,” said Baker.
Monday, Hudson and his classmates got a chance to learn about the dangers of nicotine, specifically vaping, from Ray Lozano.
“They’re just kids, and they don’t understand nicotine, or they don’t understand marijuana,” said Ray Lozano, Prevention Plus LLC.
Since 1995, Ray Lozano has used humor as a way to show kids the dangers of substance abuse.
“What I remember as a kid sitting in the audience is the engaging ones. I can think back at an 8th-grade presenter that came out that was just engaging,” said Lozano.
Lozano says one of the most rewarding parts of his job comes when he sees students encouraging each other to pay attention to particular parts of the presentation.
“And I know that they do that because they’re concerned with their friend. Every presentation, if I opened it up for questions, every presentation I will get the question, ‘my friend is using, how can I help them?. And I love that question,” said Lozano.
Lozano was in Altamont as part of a program put on by the Kansas Elks Association.
And Sherman County, Kansas Sheriff Burton Pianalto, who organized the trip for the Elks, says this is where the battle to keep drugs out of communities has to start.
“We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. We have to have education,” said Sheriff Burton Pianalto, Sherman County Sheriff, Kansas Elks Assoc.
Sheriff Pianalto says he believes the key to reaching students is giving them a different perspective, especially with something like vaping.
“And also the friends. The friends basically are the ones that are going to help the people fight that addiction and overcome that addiction,” said Pianalto.
Labette County High School junior Bethany Merrick says that may be exactly what happens in her school.
“I think this will give them more of a confidence boost to be like, ‘hey, you need to stop what you’re doing or you’re going to go down a dark path’,” said Bethany Merrick, Junior, Labette County HS.
Along with Altamont, Lozano will also be speaking in Parsons, Oswego, and Chanute over the next few days.