REACH Council – a prevention service for Ellis and Johnson Counties

Image: Tom Kowatch is a youth prevention specialist and an employee of REACH Council of Midlothian.

Tom Kowatch is a youth prevention specialist and an employee of REACH Council of Midlothian. (Cindy Sutherland)

When is a better time than when children are young to help shape their minds and teach them about making good life choices that affect them for the rest of their lives? Decisions on whether to take drugs, use alcohol or use tobacco can, depending on your choice, either help you live a better life or destroy a life. That is what REACH Council Prevention Services of Midlothian is all about – teaching children to make positive, educated, healthy life choices.

Tom Kowatch is a youth prevention specialist and has worked for REACH Council since July of 2012. He said, “Our focus is on prevention services, specifically prevention of tobacco, drug and alcohol use of youth within Ellis and Johnson county communities.”

REACH was established in 1988 after a drug undercover police officer was killed in the Midlothian High School. The community felt they had to do something to prevent this from happening again and in response REACH was formed. Their mission statement is: To encourage and support safe and healthy choices vital to the well-being of our youth, families and community.

Kowatch explained, “One of the services we provide is presentations at schools about the dangers of tobacco use. During the last week of October we were able to participate in Red Ribbon Week in Italy in which we visited Stafford Elementary. This is what we do, we go to schools and give presentations to the students and explain the consequences of choices and how it can effect their lives. We want them to be able to make educated choices.”

In some of the presentations to students Tom said they will actually bring pig lungs with them to show them the difference in healthy lungs and unhealthy lungs. Kowatch explained, " We use pig lungs because they are the closest thing to human lungs. We show them the lungs that have been exposed to tobacco products and those that have not been exposed. The exposed lungs are black and the unexposed lungs are pink and healthy."

Kowatch said, “Another service we provide is training retailers who sell tobacco with classes on the laws and legislature both for the State and Federal levels. We offer the classes free of charge with the intention to educate retailers and prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors. We also provide information on how to give up smoking and who to contact if someone is interested in making this life style choice.”

Kowatch continued, “If you would like any further information about REACH or the services we offer, feel free to contact me at our office. We are there Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.”

REACH Council Prevention Services are located at:
214 West Avenue F
Midlothian, TX 76035
Office: 972-723-1053
Fax: 972-723-1055