Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office decided to launch a statewide public awareness campaign in Riverhead called “Talk2Prevent” as state officials are impressed by the teamwork between the school district, police department and community groups to combat underage drinking and substance abuse, especially during the prom and graduation season.
State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez announced the campaign Monday at Riverhead High School and said the local community was picked for the kickoff because of its years of service to combat alcoholism, most notably by hosting a “sober pre-prom party” for students.
Since 2013, Riverhead Community Awareness Program (CAP) has partnered with Riverhead High School and Peconic Bay Medical Center to host a sober, red carpet pre-prom event for its students. After their photos are taken on the red carpet, students are taken directly to the prom so that they won’t have an opportunity to consume alcohol or drugs.
“This school, Riverhead High, through your partnership with the Riverhead Community Awareness Program and other organizations and community members, have really gone above and beyond to make prom night safe,” Ms. Gonzalez-Sanchez said. “It is efforts like these that need to catch on in other areas of the state so we can keep our kids safe.”
Riverhead CAP president Felicia Scocozza said that over 4,000 people under 21 die from alcohol and drug related instances a year. In addition, she said 75 percent of high schoolers in New York have drank alcohol and one in 10 teenagers say they have drove drunk over the summers — all statistics she commended the Riverhead community on trying to change.
In addition to presenting awards to Riverhead CAP and high school officials, Ms. Gonzalez-Sanchez honored the Riverhead Town Police Department and Riverhead Town Board for their efforts.
The Talk2Prevent campaign is designed to educate students and parents about the dangers of underage substance use. Public service announcements will be broadcast in English and Spanish. The state will also provide local restaurants with coffee cup sleeves that include messages to remind parents to talk to their children about the dangers of underage drinking and substance abuse.
Top photo: Members from the Riverhead community were honor Monday at Riverhead High School during a ceremony to kickoff the statewide Talk2Prevent campaign. (Credit: Nicole Smith)