By Melisa Damcevska, Preventionist I
Every day, 2,000 teenagers take a prescription drug recreationally for the first time. Whether through self-medication or a lack of awareness of the risks, prescription drug abuse among adolescents is a growing and serious problem.
To help raise awareness about prescription drug misuse among adolescents, the Coalition for Healthy Communities of Middlesex County has orchestrated its annual “Be Smart About Medicine” poster contest.
Middle school students in grades 6-8 throughout Middlesex County are encouraged to submit artwork, whether through a written story or poem or a drawing, to showcase their freedom of expression as well as spreading valuable information to their peers. At the conclusion of the contest, three winners for first, second and third place are chosen for each grade, and these nine students are honored at the Annual Be Smart About Medicine Awards Dinner.
This year, The Coalition for Healthy Communities celebrated its 8th Annual Awards Dinner on May 2, 2018. This year’s winners include students from the following schools: Hammarskjold Middle School of East Brunswick, Carteret Middle School and Crossroads South Middle School of South Brunswick. Students were given to opportunity to attend the dinner with their loved ones and receive and certificate and a prize for their work well done.
In addition to the middle school winners, two high school students were recognized for their contribution and involvement both in their communities and in the world of prevention. Baraka Yabidi and Kilwa Casey, of Dunellen High School, were honored with Leadership Awards to commend the remarkable work they do in their school and community every day. The Be Smart About Medicine Contest and subsequent Awards Dinner provides both an educational opportunity for our youth, but also brings together students, parents and community members by helping them recognize the importance of the work of prevention and how they can make a difference in their own communities.
Participating schools included: Carteret Middle School, Hammarskjold Middle School, Lincoln Middle School, Memorial Middle School, Sayreville Middle School, Wardlaw-Hartridge School, Piscataway Quibbletown Middle School, South Brunswick Crossroads North Middle School, South Brunswick Crossroads South Middle School, and Woodbridge Middle School.
Contest Judges included Rachelle Burk, Children’s Author and Entertainer, Paul Grzella, General Manager/Editor, Courier News/Home News Tribune/MyCentralJersey.com; and, Ezra Helfand, Executive Director & CEO, Wellspring Center for Prevention