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Youth Poster Winners Honored

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Avoid these posters at your own risk.

But the risk of youth drinking is real, and a poster contest by a local anti-drinking group produced 20 winners from local Throggs Neck schools and youth organizations.

The Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership honored the local elementary and middle school students with certificates on Thursday, June 6 at the Throgs Neck Little League field.

The posters were themed to deliver a message on how alcohol affects the brain and how alcohol abuse can harm young people’s growth.

It was all part of TNCAP’s “Risk is Real” campaign to combat youth drinking.

The winners in the contest were Jonah Guerrero, Alan Carlos Ventura, Zuleika Briceno, Diana Collazo, Kaitlyn Nin, Alyssa Hill, Frederix Pichardo, Megan Pecora, Najee Williams, Karina Lopez, Michael Vidal, Katelyn Diaz, William Albright, Nicholas Murillo, Andrew Mincin, Natalia Mejia, Pharidah Agbaje, Miguel Bustamante, Taaseen Ali, and Gabriel DeStefano.

The schools and groups involved in the contest took up the theme enthusiastically, said TNCAP executive director Fran Maturo.

“It was about the health risks - the social, emotional and physical risks of drinking under age,” said Maturo. “We obviously are doing the high school student campaign, but really felt it was a good idea to carry over the campaign to the elementary school students.”

The activity not only reinforces a message about the dangers of underage drinking, but also has the young people actively engaging in the topic by thinking about it while creating art.

“It sends the children a message and then asks them to participate in their learning, in this case through art.” she said. “I think it gives us another vehicle for children to hear the message...it is another way to reach out to children and teach.”

Young people speaking and communicating with their peers is often the best way to prevent underage drinking, said Senator Jeff Klein, who served as chairman of the State Senate Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committee. Klein and Thomas Messina of Congressman Crowley’s office were on hand to give the kids citations.

“We can pass all the laws cracking down on underage drinking, and making sure that bar owners don’t accept phony IDs,” said Klein, “but at the end of the day, education is what is going to get children to stop drinking.”

The contest gives students the opportunity to express themselves, said St. Frances de Chantal School principal Grace Lucie.

The school’s art teacher, Doreen Robben, said that the poster contest provided a teachable moment for all grade levels involved, with younger students focusing more on positive activities and stressing self-control with the older students.

Among St. Frances’ five winners in the contest was Diana Collazo, 14, an eighth grader at the school who created a poster showing two girls under the influence of beer who are fighting and two girls who are not drinking who are walking peacefully together. Collazo said she learned both about art and drawing, as well as about the health risks of alcohol.

Participating schools and organizations included Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, M.S. 101, Mott Hall Community School, Phipps Beacon, Preston Center for Compassion, St. Benedict School, and St. Frances de Chantal School.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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