SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – For the seventh year, Alliance for Safe Kids (ASK) hosted its annual forum designed to inform and empower teens and their families regarding their mental health.
The event was held at Lakeland High School and attracted students and parents from outside high schools as well, including Walter Panas and Yorktown High School.
The event features interactive workshops for teens and adults that touch on such issues as body image, drug abuse, driving safety, anxiety, stress and signs of addiction. There are also booths set up by community organizations advertising resources such as support groups, treatment centers, fitness centers and drug use and prevention organizations.
ASK calls the program one of its most successful and said Save-a-Life has directly touched the lives of over 2,500 community members since 2010.
This year’s keynote speaker was Jacy Good, a nationally recognized public speaker and advocate for cellphone-free roads. Good survived a car wreck in 2008 that killed her parents and left her partially paralyzed. The accident was caused by a young, distracted driver, she said. Since then, she and her husband, Steve Johnson, created “Hang up and Drive,” an organization through which they travel the country to educate people about the dangers of cellphone use behind the wheel.
At this year’s forum, the couple spoke to adults and students regarding driving safety along with apps intended to limit cellphone use—such as LifeSaver—which are designed to deter drivers from using their phones.
The Westchester County Police Department was also present with its drunk driving simulator, which slows down driver response to show the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
Three seniors from Walter Panas High School caught up with Yorktown News as they waited to go inside: Racquel Romero, Samantha Knight and Celina Thomas said they find the event informative and helpful.
Knight has attended the past four events and said she appreciates its focus on mental health, as the subject is often taboo and she doesn’t have many other opportunities to learn about the subjects discussed at the event.
Romero added that she appreciates the personal experiences shared by many of the events’ speakers on subjects such as drug-use.
“They kept it really real,” she explained. “They weren’t saying, ‘Don’t do this or do this,’ they just gave us the facts.”
All three said they found the events’ subjects applicable to their lives. The event was concluded by a “Taste of Yorktown Celebration” in the cafeteria, where attendees enjoyed food provided by several area restaurants.