(White Plains, NY) -- The images of skulls on the steps of the Westchester County Center in White Plains may look like something from Halloween, but the Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth had another date it mind when it put them there – April 20.
April 20 is a date where some people around the nation gather to smoke marijuana, but the teen members of the coalition decided to take the concept and turn it on its head. The teens have declared 4/20 as Marijuana Prevention Day and are holding a news conference and rally at 4:20 p.m. Friday outside the County Center at 198 Central Ave. to urge Westchester’s young people to stay drug free.
County Executive Robert P. Astorino applauded the coalition for its latest effort to keep Westchester’s youth away from dangerous drugs.
“These young people are taking a public stand against marijuana use and are sending a powerful message to their peers. I hope that all our youth will be wise enough to follow their example,” he said.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Rose Arditi, a junior at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, said. “So many youth are making the healthy choice and staying away from marijuana. April 20 is a day to celebrate those healthy choices and invite others to join us.”
The Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth is an “umbrella coalition” whose members represent 30 local community anti-drug coalitions throughout the county. The goal of the program is to reduce substance abuse among youth in Westchester and, over time, among adults by addressing the factors that increase the risk of substance abuse and by promoting behaviors that minimize the risk of substance abuse.
The coalition selected a striking visual theme for Marijuana Prevention Day that graphically depicts human skulls with marijuana plants growing out of them. This visual is featured as “stairscapes” on the steps of the County Center, which will serve as the backdrop for the rally and news conference.
The “stairscapes” graphic will remain in place through April 24. The same ‘weed’ graphic will be displayed on all digital advertising signs in White Plains.
Vito Pinto, director of the Office of Drug Prevention and STOP-DWI and chair of the Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth, also applauded the teens for the message they are sending.
“This is a very timely event given the results of a recent national survey which showed that marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year in a row, in sharp contrast to declines that occurred in the preceding decade. We need to rally with our youth in Westchester to resist this national trend.”
Being marijuana-free offers young people many health advantages. In addition, at a time when the challenging economy and youth unemployment are a huge concern, youth who are marijuana-free can pass the drug-screening test that so many employers require.
Astorino has also issued a proclamation to mark Marijuana Prevention Day. It reads in part: “It is with conviction and pride that the youth and adult leaders throughout Westchester unite in celebrating the first annual Marijuana Prevention Day to applaud and support our youth who are making healthy decisions.”
Another supporter is businessman Manny Najarro of Uptown Balloons.
“We are so pleased to be a part of this important event. As a business in the community, it is important for us to support the health of our youth since they will be our future employees,” he said.
For more information about the event, contact Judy Mezey at Student Assistance Services, 914-332-1300.