The Land of Oz: What Third Graders Know

13 Jul 2016
The Land of Oz: What Third Graders Know

What do third graders know? Here is the answer: A LOT. 

How do I know? Well, I am the proud owner of a third grader. I acquired her in a game of chance between myself and Mrs. Oz a little over ten years ago. 34 weeks later (it’s a long story), in a little room at St. Vincent’s Hospital, a bundle of joy was deeded to us that required filling out less paperwork than a rental agreement.  

How else do I know? Because at PRIDE (Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education), we implemented a prevention program for every third grader in the city and county of Tuscaloosa, which means that we get to meet almost all of them. It’s appropriately titled, “Have a Little PRIDE.” 


When we first started the program, and even to this day, many parents are stunned that we start drug prevention at such an early age. At the beginning, we were nervous about it too. But we found out rather quickly that these kids are smarter and are picking up on things about life at a much faster rate. Most of this is good. Some of it is not. 

Before you fall of the couch in disbelief, understand that our program does not consist of talking to kids about harsh drugs like cocaine or heroin. It’s about making healthy lifestyle choices, and what they want to be when they grow up, and what their dreams and goals are, and obstacles that can get in the way of achieving those goals. 

Then we ask them if they know what tobacco is, and typically, every hand is raised. Some of them know a little bit. Some of them know name brands. But all of them know something, and this comes in a time where tobacco use is at its lowest point in years. Yet, they are aware of it (and quite intrigued).  

This opens a dialogue with them about making those healthy lifestyle choices, giving them an introductory, yet appropriate, definition of addiction.  

At the end of the presentation, we open the floor for questions, and some of things we hear would likely shock most of you. The majority of them have heard about marijuana and heroin, as these are two substances that are frequently reported on in the news. But many also know about meth and cocaine and synthetics. 

And this is why it is so important that we start prevention at an early age. The information superhighway is wide open, and our children are riding in the fast lane.  

Want to know how fast? Just ask them.  

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.            

Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby.  He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica.  

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Derek Osborn

Executive Director at PRIDE of Tuscaloosa, the only  non-profit agency in the Tuscaloosa area that informs and educates the parents, students, and community about the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs.


Lake Tuscaloosa Living (LTL) is the premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.


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