Local youth take message to U.S. capital

VISTA — Four Vista teens traveled to Maryland and Washington, D.C., from Feb. 4 to Feb. 7 with an anti-drug message of “Do not serve alcohol to minors.”
The youth presented at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s 21st annual National Leadership Forum, spoke with Congressional representatives and senators, and met up with other teens who are also taking a stand against alcohol and drugs in their communities.
The four Vista High School seniors are members of the North Coastal Prevention Coalition. Alexandria Gonzalez, 17; Araceli Reyes, 19; Coral Varona, 17; and Damaris Torres, 17, attended the anti-drug conference with more than 2,800 participants and 300 fellow teens.
“The conference in Maryland is right outside D.C.,” Nannette Stamm, North Coastal Prevention Coalition prevention specialist, said. “We took day trips to D.C. to visit representatives and tour national landmarks.”
The trip to the nation’s capital enabled the girls to see policy making in action. “They could get a feel of the work that goes on in D.C. in its policy making to prevent underage drinking,” Stamm said. “It helps them connect the dots from the work they do here to a national level.”
“I really enjoyed getting to meet a lot of new people that care about their communities as much as I do,” Araceli Reyes said.
“I learned so much,” Coral Varona said. “I plan to take all this knowledge back to my community and continue to make a difference.”
The girls will follow up with an assessment of how well local alcohol advertising complies with regulations to limit the alcohol advertising visible to minors.
“The (conference) workshops gave them more ideas on how to do this,” Stamm said. “They met other teens doing similar work.”
The trip also allowed time for the four teens to sightsee, eat out and collect souvenirs.
“It was really a once in a lifetime opportunity for them,” Stamm said. “I think it helped them appreciative it even more. Now they’re more committed and motivated to continue their work here.”

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