A speaker at Entrada Academy

Town Hall warns of dangers of underage drinking

Elizabeth Johnson of the Department of Education leads a conversation with students at Estrada Academy on June 22.

A panel of substance abuse professionals and law enforcement officers presented cautionary tales warning about the dangers of drugs and alcohol to preteens at a June 22 public discussion in Longwood.

More than 200 students attended the Town Hall style event at the Entrada Academy Middle School at 977 Fox Street, as the experts cautioned against experimenting with street drugs such as Lean and K2, as well as alcohol. 

The discussion was organized and hosted by The Sports Foundation Inc., a Longwood nonprofit that looks to steer young people away from trouble through athletics and community engagement. The organization was founded in 1969 to mentor South Bronx young people out of trouble and violence through sports and education. The group is funded almost entirely through funding from almost wholly funded by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

To add force to their message, the panelists also shared painful stories of addiction within their own families.

Entrada’s assistant principal, Robert Kowles, said one key point seemed to resonate for many of his students: the importance of acting right away to fight off substance abuse problems, rather than waiting to tackle them later.

In a nationwide study by the group Monitoring the Future, 11 percent of 8th graders reported drinking during the past thirty days, and 3.6 percent of them drink to intoxication.

Despite the alarming statistics, however, prevention efforts have been shown to help to reduce underage drinking and substance use.

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