According to the Taylor Hooton Foundation, more than nine million U.S. teenagers use dietary supplements, and more than 1.5 million admit to using anabolic steroids for the purpose of improving their appearance or their athletic performance. The median starting age for supplement use, according to the foundation, is 10.8 years old.
For the past several years, representatives from this foundation have been traveling the country to educate teens, parents, coaches, teachers and others about the dangers of appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs). Their mission was motivated by the loss of their own loved one, Taylor F. Hooton, a 17-year-old student-athlete from Plano, Texas, who took his own life in July 2003 after using anabolic steroids. Taylor’s family and friends established the foundation after learning of the growing number of middle school, high school and college athletes illegally using and abusing anabolic steroids, human growth hormone (HGH), unregulated dietary supplements and other APEDs.
On Thursday, Nov. 13, the Hooton foundation will bring its message to the students and community of Independence in two special events sponsored by Mercy Health Foundation and Mercy Health for Life. A special student assembly is planned that afternoon at Independence High School, followed by a free community presentation at 6:30 p.m. at the high school auditorium.
The presentation will cover statistics on APED use, how teens are obtaining the drugs, the health risks involved – including both physical and emotional effects - how to recognize the signs of use and preventive measures adult influencers can take to help their children make smart choices.
The events are being offered free of charge, thanks to grant funding provided by the Mercy Health Foundation through its “Operation Kids” fund that is used to support initiatives for community children.
More information on the presentations is available by contacting Jay Jones, athletic trainer at Mercy Health for Life, 620-331-7250.