State-wide social media challenge aims to stop teen pot use

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DELTA, Colo. (KKCO) -- About one in three adolescents use marijuana by age 14, according to a recent report, Monitoring Health Concerns related to Marijuana in Colorado: 2016.

Now, health officials are working on prevention efforts before students get to ninth grade, and one local middle school is working to combat the trend using social media.

"I was a little bit shocked how prevalent it was in the middle school -- I didn’t expect that,” said Resa Moran, a school counselor at Delta Middle School.

The hard truth has teachers working to curb pot use among teens.

"There is marijuana use at Delta Middle School, we do know that," Moran. "For the students, it kind of an empowering lesson. Maybe there are adults in their lives that do use marijuana, that is an adult choice. They have a choice.”

Delta Middle School is one of two schools on the Western Slope participating in the Protect What’s Next challenge, organized by the state Department of Health.

“There is a card for every student, there are three challenges on it,” said eighth grader Autumn Eddy. "You do one or you do all three of them. Then you take a picture or video of it [the challenge] and post it on social media."

Students at Delta Middle School have been doing challenges all month.

"We did one where we made a human pyramid and I was at the way top," Ethan Atchley said, an eighth grader at Delta Middle School.

"Giving knuckles to a teacher, and giving piggy back rides to a kid,” said Erika Kuta, a seventh grader.

The point of the challenge is to get students to step out of their comfort zone and to get them to stand up to peer pressure and drug use.

"I think a lot of students, especially in middle school because they are trying to fit in, find it difficult to stand up to peer pressure,” Moran said.

Students hope this can help keep their peers from starting to use pot.

The contest ends tomorrow, and the winners will be announced on March 13.

The state will choose the top schools, based on the percent of students that participated. The school that wins will get $10,000.

The 70 Colorado schools participating are divided in to four categories based on their enrollment numbers.

The schools can put the prize money toward any improvements or supplies they choose.

For more information on the project click the link on the right side of this screen.

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