By Michael Hill
Fayon Witche is on her way to deliver a powerful message at a nail salon in Orange.
“So I was wondering if you could keep some of these that we could give to the kids,” she said.
Witche handed the owner a “Walking Dead” themed post card: “Don’t let prom be your last dance.”
“I think there’s a general concern in the community about drug abuse and underage drinking that everyone in the community sees that it’s such an epidemic that they’re willing to partner with Family Connections in handling the problem,” Witche said.
The card and flier come from the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team — ADAPT for short — of Family Connections in Essex County.
“Unfortunately it’s cost a lot of lives already and we’re just trying to do an innovative way of making sure they understand the message,” said Coordinator Joel Torres. When asked if he thinks they’ll get the message, Torres said, “I believe so. This was something that was created by youth. It’s something that’s really eye-catching and speaks to them and speaks to what they love.”
Torres says ADAPT will deliver the fliers and postcards to many more businesses where teens will shop for prom, and they’re encouraging teens to have fun without drugs or alcohol. But Torres says ADAPT knows too well the challenge:
“It’s a norm that alcohol is normal, is something that you need to have a good time. I think you see it in the media, ad, music videos and celebs talk about it all the time and so that message seems normal to youth and they see anything else that they can do without drugs and alcohol to have a good time,” Torres said.
Next week, police will come to Cedar Grove High School to show and tell teens how to avoid the dangers behind the wheel this prom season. They use a very dramatic prop to drive home their point: a wrecked car. But the message is the same as flier: be safe.
“I think it’s good. I can’t relate to it but I think a lot of kids watch the show and my son’s age can relate to that,” said parent Doug Osborne.
“I think it’s really interesting. I think it expresses what’s going on with prom night. I think it’s become pretty dangerous. How do you make it less dangerous? I think school right idea move date of prom from Memorial Day weekend to next weekend to when we don’t have those days off. Upped the chaperones. I think it’s different,” said John Osborne.
Another campaign is underway to alert teens. This video won the state AG’s high school competition.
Three students from Woodstown High School in South Jersey beat out 52 other competitors to come up with the winning entry. The hope is all teens and prom goers this season heed the winning message.