If you were in the vicinity of the Owatonna Middle School yesterday afternoon, you saw that it was a busy place. In addition to the conferences going on, OMS was the site for the Kick-Off celebration for Red Ribbon Week. The location was changed from downtown Owatonna in Central Park, as it was just too cold to be out there.

There was a proclamation from Mayor Tom Kuntz, a short speech from Police Chief Hiller, who said that substance use and abuse affects every family, in every walk of life. He urged the kids present to not partake in any substance usage, as not only can it affect the brain's development, it is also not legal for them to use anything until they are 21, or have their own prescription from a doctor.

Mayor Tom Kuntz reading the proclamation Melissa Hall/TownSquare Media
Cheif Hiller Melissa Hall/TownSquare Media

The winners of the 4th Grade poster competition were announced, congrats to all of them. Those posters were really creative.

Winners of the poster contest Melissa Hall/TownSquare Media

Steele County Public Health was there with a display about the different apps that people can have on their phones, and what they do. Members of Minnesota's National Guard were on site, they had a rock-wall for climbing planned, but, since the kick-off was moved inside, they made dog tags for the kiddos.

Making dog tags with the National Guard Melissa Hall/TownSquare Media

The Owatonna Police Department brought the impaired goggles, you put them on and your vision changes as if you were impaired. That was a hit with everyone. I even tried on a pair, yeah, I could not catch the whiffle ball that Det. Matt Oeltjenbruns threw at me, but, I caught the stuffed animal, sort of.

Impaired goggles Melissa Hall/TownSquare Media
Det. Oeltjenbruns checking the power of the impaired goggles Melissa Hall/TownSquare Media

The Steele County Safe & Drug Free Coalition had their "hidden in plain sight" display up, a modified version of it. Their goal is to "Empower Youth to Choose a Chemical Free Lifestyle."

Nancy Williams, from the Owatonna High School, and the advisor for SHOC (Students Helping Others Choose) ran the program, and her SHOC students were there to help out. Face-painting and games with the kiddos were very popular.

Member of SHOC Melissa Hall/TownSquare Media
Face Painting with SHOC Melissa Hall/TownSquare Media