Young Voices of Substance Abuse / by Dena Mekawi

April may also be the month of rain and showers; however, it also serves as a time for Substance Abuse Awareness. On Thursday, April 20th, the UN Department of Public Information hosted high school students to present their work and impact promoting awareness on the issue in association with the Sustainable Development Goals. We opened with Moderator Gertrude Noden, professor for Global Education Motivators and Founder of Words into Deeds, explaining the process students used to implement the SDGs to best go about "Breaking the 50% Cycle."

Eva Mayu Mecham, a junior at New Roots Charter School, originally from Ecuador faced a culture shock when she moved to the United States especially with the views on addiction and substance abuse. Classmates around smoked both tobacco and pot. Eva clarifies that there are many misconceptions of addiction which can allow shame and diminishing of "potheads" or victims of drug abuse' characters especially from society's view.

"Open my eyes, open my heart." - Eva Mayu Mecham

This sense of addiction shouldn't inspire us to exclude those who need help. Instead, we should take them in and look to ways of education and programs to find solutions and strategies to fight substance abuse.

Mother and Deputy Executive Director of Southern Tier AIDS Program, Michelle McElroy talks about that we as a community need to come together and think of a new strategy. How can the United States go about drug policy? We need to supply our children and youth accurate information of the medical benefits and effects of drugs for them to analyze. We need to teach our youth analytical skills so they can act upon relevant information and make their own educated decisions. Do we really want our youth to believe that Cocaine is less dangerous than Marijuana because that is what the federal drug policy is entailing?

"Our goal is to save just one addict at a time." - Student pledge to decrease substance abuse

In sending a message "Through Art Expression," students found that the arts serves as an appropriate outlet concerning their experiences. Check out the spoken word performed by Weaver Hill and Shjon Amaker, students from New Roots Charter School.

Mayor of the city of Ithaca, Svante L. Myrick promoted youth involvement in policy making especially with laws that affect them. Our youth obtains a sense energy, creativity, and moral authority our legislative lacks. Youth have a different perspective and different experience than the older crowd does. When people are suffering anywhere, we have a responsibility to do something and seek recovery and prevention.

Youth Delegate, Faith de Castro argues that students should be instructed in the early age in the importance of human rights. With that in mind, we encourage everyone especially youth to learn more substance abuse and health for it is a right to know all the information.

To learn more, check out the following websites the students of New Roots Charter have so kindly given us as a trusting resource.

Alcohol and Drug Council

Phone: 607.274.6288

Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP)


Phone: 888.206.2870

Rescue Mission


Phone: 607.273.6648