Cam Janssen visits EHS, District celebrates anti-tobacco grant

On the evening of May 2nd, members of STAR and Trend gathered in EHS’ cafeteria to discuss Rockwood’s Drug Prevention programs.  The main purpose behind the gathering was to celebrate the success of Rockwood’s newest anti-tobacco grant for which up to almost $100,000 was put forward by St. Louis County Health Department for schools in the Rockwood School District. 

However, it wasn’t just the success of the anti-drug programs that made the evening noteworthy.  Many students had also gathered to see anti-drug advocate and St. Louis-born professional athlete Cam Janssen, who is a forward for the St. Louis Blues. 

“I think watching Cam speak up against drugs and tobacco was more effective than watching a teacher because it offers a higher point of view,” Aundrea Bach (11) said.  “It was really good.  I think it offers more variety and gives kids a bigger person to look up to.”

While the event was mainly focused on the use of tobacco in school settings, Janssen believes the grant reaches out to prevent the abuse of any substances.

“Tobacco and drugs are basically the same thing,” Janssen said.  “What’s the difference?  You smoke cigarettes long enough, it’s terrible for you.  You can see it age you.  It slows you down.” 

Janssen graduated from EHS in 2002, and has since gone on to become a professional athlete.  Janssen wants to preach to students about the dangers of being involved with addictive substances.

“As a professional athlete, I wouldn’t have been able to get where I’m at if I had gone down that wrong path,” Janssen said.  “You experiment, if you do, just realize that it’s the wrong thing to do.  It’s not going to help anything, it’s just going to ruin you, and it’s going to isolate you from your family and friends.”

Thanks to the efforts from multiple students, The Rockwood Board to Education deemed days April 24th through May 1st as ‘Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition Week’ so the donations from students, parents and all other student-prevention groups could be publically known and recognized.

“[Student prevention groups] bring in reality,” Janssen said.  “It brings reality to all the kids that come here that have all this access to cigarettes and drugs and alcohol and, whatever the case is, it’s a wake-up call to them, ‘hey, listen, we’re trying to let you guys know how bad this can be, and it can ruin your life’.  This is very important, and very important to cement this into these kids’ heads.”

Students from prevention programs like STAR didn’t just appreciate Janssen’s message, but also his attendance of the event.

“It was good to know that we aren’t the only ones who care,” Rana Suleiman (11) said.  “Somebody who’s famous still cares, [but] you wouldn’t normally think that.  You think that famous people only care about being famous, but I thought it was a good idea that he came, just so you could see it from someone else’s point of view.  I think it was better than just hearing it from an adult that works at the school.”

Student-led prevention groups fight against anything from cigarettes to marijuana, and the support received from both Janssen and the $100,000 grant displays support for the cause.