LAKE PLACID - On Feb. 14, over 150 youth from from Essex and Franklin counties gathered in Lake Placid to participate in the Jim Kordziel memorial basketball tournament, creating a forum for the effort to curb underage drinking locally.
Youth teams from Willsboro, Moriah, Lake Placid, Elizabethtown, Westport, Brushton, Chateguay, Schroon Lake, Keene and Au Sable Forks participated in the annual tournament. This year's tournament theme focused on the problems of alchol use by minors.
Director of youth and recreation Michael Mascarenas said the tournament provided an excellent opportunity to spread the message of the dangers of underage drinking.
"You could see posters hanging all over the gymnasium," he said. "It was nice to see the young people take such a proactive approach on an issue that so many feel strong about."
More than 100 parents visiting the tournament had access to literature from the BEST partnership, a coalition involving Essex County law enforcement and numerous youth organizations with the purpose of diminishing alcohol use among youth.
"Accidents involving alcohol are the number one killer of youth aged 16-24," said Essex County District Attorney Julie Garcia. "We need to spread the message, that there is no such thing as safe underage drinking."
Youth from the host village of Lake Placid created dozens of posters urging both parents and teens to put an end to alcohol use by those below the legal age of consumption.
"Underage drinking is an area where Essex County continues to struggle," Mascarenas added. "To change what has been the norm for so long takes an effort by the whole community."
Mascarenas thanked the many volunteer coaches and organizers that helped make the teams and tournament possible.
"The coaches, players, and fans exemplified what youth athletics are about," Mascarenas said. "The kids went out there, played hard, and most importantly had fun."