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Mayor, Teen Leadership students speak at elementary schools

NEWTON, NC (Oct. 29, 2013) – Students at North Newton and South Newton elementary schools on Oct. 25 heard from Newton Mayor Anne P. Stedman and a group of 2013 Teen Leadership Newton participants about the impact and pitfalls of drug use on their futures.

Teen Leadership participants Sophie Davis, Wilson Elliott, Rachael Hamm, Alex Howell, Sarahi Robles and Taylor Thompson spoke to students about marijuana and the peer pressure children may face from friends to do drugs, the perception of others regarding those who use drugs and the effect on academics and sports.

The teens stressed that students should remain true to themselves and define themselves individually, rather than letting their peers decide who they are. True friends would respect the decision of their friends who choose not to do drugs, the group said. And people who choose to use drugs may gain a negative public perception.

The teens said using marijuana could also negatively affect their academics and opportunities to participate in sports as goals are reprioritized. They added that drug use could lead to declining grades, which not only immediately affects students, but also their chances of getting into college. High school students who participate in sports face random drug tests, the presenting students said, and failing one could lead to immediate suspension from the team.

The Teen Leadership students delivered a similar presentation to the Newton City Council in March, spurring the presentations at the elementary schools in April and on Friday.

As part of the Teen Leadership program, the students chose a “hot topic” they believe the City Council should address in the next decade. This group’s presentation urged the City Council to educate children early on about drug prevention, offer alternative after school activities and programs, raise parents’ awareness and to offer a guidance program where younger children could write to teens for advice.

Two other Teen Leadership groups delved into the environment and quality of life. Both groups engaged in projects outside of the program as well. The environmental group designed and compiled a bill stuffer encouraging Newton residents to recycle and conserve energe. The quality of life group designed a newspaper ad highlighting the entertainment, shopping and recreational activities in Newton.

To learn more about Teen Leadership Newton visit www.newtonnc.gov.