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Event highlights healthy living, community services

ELLENBURG DEPOT Tenth-grader Cynthia Brooks wants to let people know about teen pregnancy. Not everybody in the community is aware of how many teens get pregnant during the year, she explained during the annual Community Services Awareness Day program at Northern Adirondack High School April 4. The day-long event was organized by student chairs Lindsay Manor and Ty Herbest along with teachers Pamela Boulerice and Kristie Gregory. Throughout the day, students held an American Idol-style talent contest, challenged the teachers in a Friendly Feud and even had a visit from rock band, Sunset West. Although fun was the focus, the topics dealt with were very serious, especially the community agency and student displays. The whole idea, explained Boulerice, is to let people in the community know what services are available. Nearly 50 community agencies attended the event, from the Alzheimers Association to the New York State Police and Canine Unit and Head Start to Stop Domestic Violence. Although many of the agencies services dont specifically target the school-age audience, Boulerice believed the event helps build important bridges. The idea was to bring the community and agencies together to build awareness. The kids will remember a lot, take the information home, she said. Maybe their families will contact some of these agencies. The students also got involved in the education process. Students taking health education completed group projects on a health issue of their choosing. They then wrote research papers, gave presentations, and finally set up a booth to advocate for their issue during the event. Topics ranged from alcohol, tobacco and inhalants, to sleep, stress and depression, showing which subjects were on students minds. At a booth focusing on tobacco products and their health effects, 10th-graders Ashleigh Lord and Ben Lavalley confirmed smoking is still a big problem for teens. We want to make them aware that its easy to get addicted, explained Lord. At the Champlain Valley Family Center booth, students tried on drunk goggles to simulate what its like to be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse prevention counselor Janine Kemp watched one young man attempt to walk in a figure eight without falling, explaining the students were surprised by how hard it was. Some kids think they can do it, she added, but theyre not able to stand back and watch themselves. Back at the teen pregnancy booth, Brooks was tending to her charge a robotic doll that simulates a real baby. Students in 10th grade take the dolls home for a weekend to get a small taste of the demands of parenting the crying, dirty diapers, feeding, burping and rocking. As she tried to soothe the crying doll, she explained she would like to see students in younger grades using the dolls as well. Our research found out that from sixth grade on, kids have a lot of knowledge, but I dont think they pay attention to what they do know, she said. Im hoping they learn that abstinence at their age is the best. Boulerice also hoped students learned a lot during the event. Peer education is the best, she affirmed.

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