60 high school students from all over Madison County came together on Friday, October 5th to the Annual SADD Conference, sponsored by Madison County STOP DWI. Madison County was represented by student leaders from Canastota, Cazenovia, Chittenango, DeRuyter, Holy Cross, Madison, Oneida, and Stockbridge.
National Speaker Harriet Turk presented the keynote speech, “Just Be A Resource”, where she focused on teen issues. She empowered each student by challenging their negative thoughts of self-value. She reminded each student that they are not only valuable but can make a difference in the lives of their peers. Student’s enjoyed the chant Ms. Turk wanted them to remember, “I am somebody special, if you don’t like me, tough! Cause I am cool enough, smooth enough, and doggone it, I am hot enough to be who I want to be!”.
Once Turk was finished, students were given the opportunity to rotate around the Kallet Theater and do hands-on activities they can implement in their school. Each activity focused on educating and preventing peers from using alcohol and other drugs. The students and advisors were given resources to do these activities in their schools and communities. Some stations include: chalk the walk, cups in the fence, airing out tobacco and alcohol’s dirty laundry, etc.
Representing the Sheriff’s Office, STOP DWI Coordinator, Sergeant Matt White opened the day with welcoming remarks. Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood also attended the conference and spoke to the students briefly about his experiences regarding underage drinking and DWIs. Sheriff Hood reminded them they are important and encouraged them to take what they learned back to their schools.
“The conference’s primary purpose was to empower students to be a resource, friendly, kind, and a role model”, said Jennifer Cottet, a prevention education specialist for BRiDGES-Madison County Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Inc. Reality Check provided a t-shirt for every student and advisor present with the message “Just Be”.
Cottet would like to thank the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, BRiDGES, Reality Check, La Quinta Inn & Suites in Verona, Rick’s Rags, Salvation Army, and 31 Express Deli for their generous contributions to this year’s conference.