In a 2012 survey administered by Catholic Charities Team Newburgh, 15% of eighth grade students disclosed using alcohol in the past 30 days.
Meet Arlene, an ambitious eighth grader getting ready to graduate from Nora Cronin Presentation Academy.
But she is a 13 year-old living in the city of Newburgh, where the highest instance of teen pregnancy exists in New York State. Gang violence and crime plague the streets which makes Arlene’s home life not so pleasant.
Arlene has a sibling who has battled with drug addiction and her family is struggling financially.
All factors that do not bode well for Arlene’s future.
But you are changing the odds
Arlene and her peers had the opportunity to participate in “Too Good for Drugs.” An evidence-based program administered by Catholic Charities TEAM Newburgh, a coalition that works to strengthen collaboration among all facets of the community and lower substance abuse among youth. From topics like teen pregnancy and domestic abuse to drug addiction, educators use the Too Good for Drugs curriculum to teach children about the mental heath and social consequences of drug use and violence.
After the 10-week program, Arlene says that her confidence has grown tremendously. She learned how to respond to peer pressure situations that involve using drugs or stealing. She understands the power of addiction and knows why it is so important to avoid substance use altogether. She very much understands the affects that drugs have on the human body. In one class, the educator used a visual that included pictures of two human bodies. One body was substance-free and the other body suffered damages from substance use. Arlene says that the picture is forever engraved in her mind.
“If your dream is to be President of the United States, how do you pursue it if you do drugs?” Arlene asks.
“Imagine living in a world where there are no consequences. In Newburgh, that world exists in the minds of many city residences,” says TEAM Newburgh Educator Dawn Wilkin.
As a Too Good for Drugs educator, Wilkin is working hard to change the mindsets of young individuals.
To combat the growing trend of experimentation and substance abuse among adolescents and teens, United Way is working with community partners to promote proactive factors and strengthen resilience for children and the adults who support them. United Way is committed to reducing at-risk behaviors including substance, alcohol and drug abuse among adolescents and young adults. Working with Catholic Charities TEAM Newburgh, we will remove the barriers for safe and healthy choices.
But we can’t do it alone. You help us give students, like Arlene, the tools needed to resist drugs and alcohol and live lives free of substance abuse. Consider making a donation to United Way to ensure that future students like Arlene are able combat peer pressure!