March 04, 2009 —

As an educator, I know first-hand the value of interacting directly with my students in the San Antonio community. Kids face numerous tough challenges these days, cough medicine abuse among them. It's something that affects communities around the country: One in 10 students surveyed, nearly 2.4 million teens nationwide, has intentionally abused cough medicine to get high. Lending a hand at a local school is a great way to both support your kids and to protect them.

By volunteering at your child's school, you can connect with other parents, take part in your children's lives, and also set an example. In addition, it gives you an opportunity to discuss community issues like cough medicine abuse awareness.

Volunteering can take a variety of forms. A suggestion for parents of younger children is to look into volunteering as a classroom parent or lunch monitor. In many schools, classroom parents are responsible for helping the teacher keep the children safe and attentive during class. If you have older kids, try volunteering in the school library or as a chaperone for field trips and other events. No matter what age kids you work with, this is a great way to be a part of their school days. You can contact your school's administrative offices to find out how you can volunteer for these positions.

Joining your local chapter of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is another great way to help out if busy schedules make volunteering difficult. The PTA and PTO often can use people to help organize and support sponsored events, such as fundraisers or education programs. Your local chapter leader will have more information about the events and programs in your community.

By participating in our children's schools, we are playing important, active roles in our children's lives. Through volunteering, we not only connect with other parents and families, but we also learn about the issues that affect our kids. It shows that we are watching out for our kids wherever they may be in the community.

What are your ideas for participating in our children's schools? Are you a PTA or PTO member or a classroom volunteer? Join the conversation at the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page on Facebook and tell other members about your experiences.