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Island Youth Bring Substance Abuse Prevention Message to WashingtonDC

February 27, 2015 - Four Mercer Island High School students attended a four-day leadership training in Washington DC from February 2 through February 5 where they learned substance abuse prevention strategies and educated members of Congress about drug and alcohol issues they are facing at home.
Mercer Island High School students Ben Berejka, Sidney Montague, Sarah Stewart, and Hannah Stewart represented the Mercer Island Communities That Care Coalition, a project of Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, at the National Leadership Forum sponsored by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).  The students participated in the CADCA National Youth Leadership Initiative training, where they learned about evidence-based strategies to reduce drug and alcohol use in their school and community.
The students also spent a day on Capitol Hill with more than 100 youth and adults from Washington State to advocate in support of youth substance abuse prevention efforts.  They met with and spoke to Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, and Representative Adam Smith, expressing gratitude for the lawmakers’ past support of prevention efforts and informing the Congress members about the drug and alcohol issues they are facing on Mercer Island.
Sarah Stewart addressed Senator Patty Murray about the mixed messages she hears about marijuana: “We’re taught in school that drug use is bad—that marijuana use destroys IQ, memories… then the law says, ‘it’s okay’ and it’s sold to us in cookies and candy bars and soda and its prescribed to us as ‘medicine.’ No teenager, no parent, no person should ever have to see one of their friends, or someone they love, suffer or die from drug abuse—especially marijuana.”
To expand prevention efforts at home, the students have formed a new MIHS club called S.A.F.E.  This substance abuse prevention club provides ways for youth to connect, strengthen their community, and have fun without using drugs or alcohol.  The students will begin applying the prevention strategies learned in Washington DC to help make Mercer Island High School an even better place for their peers to grow up drug and alcohol free.
For more information, contact Derek Franklin, Communities That Care Project Director, at (206) 275-7611.


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