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Oakwood woman helps promote the Georgia Meth Project at local schools
0523 METH1
Ali McCorkle and Sandy Howington-Graham volunteer their time to work with area schools as part of the Georgia Meth Project, a program aimed at keeping kids off methamphetamine.

Many parents warn their children of the ills of drug use, but Sandy Howington-Graham wasn’t content with just steering her own kids away from drugs.

Instead, this Oakwood mom decided to take her anti-drug campaign to all Hall County students. For the last year, Howington-Graham has been visiting local schools and urging kids to not get involved with drugs, especially methamphetamine.

"As a parent, you don’t want to see your kids go down that road," said Howington-Graham, who is a certified volunteer advocate with the Georgia Meth Project.

"Hall County is one of the worst areas in the state as far as meth use goes, so we really want to do what we can to steer kids in the right direction."

The Georgia Meth Project was founded in March of 2010 by Jim Langford — who serves as the executive director — former Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker and Lee Shaw.

The project is a "large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing meth use through public service messaging, public policy and community outreach."

To better aim campaign efforts, project officials conduct statewide surveys and focus groups to get a firmer understanding of the attitudes and behaviors associated with methamphetamine use.

According to the 2010 Georgia Meth Use and Attitudes Survey, one in every five teens statewide say that it would be easy to obtain meth.

"Our slogan is ‘Not even once,’" Howington-Graham said.

"We want to stop kids from using meth before they even get started."

Most recently, Howington-Graham, along with Ali McCorkle — a regional volunteer director with the project — visited the students at South Hall Middle School.

"We showed them slides with pictures of the faces of meth and a DVD that gives statistics and shows pretty (gross) pictures," Howington-Graham said.

"It really grabs their attention when they see someone who has no teeth because of their drug use. It shows them that (what they’ve been warned about) is true."

The anti-drug group has also visited other Hall County schools, including West Hall and Davis middle schools, Howington-Graham said.

"Between seventh and eighth grades is when teens are most influenced by their peers," Howington-Graham said.

"There have actually been cases of 12-year-olds becoming addicted to meth. We are trying to make them think about the consequences before they are tempted to try drugs."

Howington-Graham, who is the manager of the Bruster’s Real Ice Cream in Oakwood, is also the founder of Bruster’s for Brighter Futures. Through the brighter futures group, Howington-Graham hosts various events like book readings, blood drives and other positive activities for children.

"We do anything we can for children to influence their future," Howington-Graham said.

"We really want to do what we can to keep them on the right track."