‘Parents still matter,’ audience hears at community conversation

Nearly 60 parents and children turned out Thursday, May 27 for a free dinner and discussion designed to start a conversation about youth substance use. Sponsored by the South Miami Drug-Free Coalition, the Non-Violence Project and the South Miami Weed & Seed, the “Community Conversation on Youth Substance Use” featured opening remarks by Mayor Philip K. Stoddard, an FIU professor of neurobiology who studies, among other topics, the effects of drugs on behavior.

Other presenters discussed the increased potency of marijuana, tobacco use among kids and the acceptance of alcohol use by parents; the critical role parents play in helping kids make healthy choices and the importance of planning for the future to keep kids focused on life goals.

The presenters included: Raymond Estefania of South Miami Hospital’s Addiction Treatment Center, Dr. Tina Carroll-Scott, South Miami Children’s Clinic, Lt. Dan Salerno and Det. Henry Guzman from the South Miami Police Department, Rev. Gregory Gay of St. John AME Church, Levy Kelly from South Miami Alliance for Youth, Diane Landsberg, Chief Executive Officer of the Non-Violence Project, Erin Jenkins of the South Miami Weed & Seed, and Margaret Sotham, Director of the South Miami Drug-Free Coalition.

Bringing together business, health care, government, parents, youth, prevention providers, law enforcement, educators and others to reduce alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use, the South Miami Drug-Free Coalition is sponsored by Informed Families, a non-profit organization founded in 1982 with the mission of helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug-free. Focusing on parents, Informed Families educates, involves and empowers parents to work together to set boundaries and monitor their children’s behavior to prevent underage drinking, substance abuse and other harmful behaviors.

South Miami Weed and Seed is a communitybased, multi-agency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention and neighborhood restoration. It brings together federal, state and local crime-fighting agencies, social service providers, representatives of the public and private sectors, prosecutors, business owners and neighborhoods in a collaborative effort to create safe environments, free of crime and drug use.

The Non-Violence Project was founded in 1996 with a mission to utilize nonviolent education and advocate for policy change to prevent youth violence. The organization has impacted the lives of 700,000 youth and their families over the years through a variety of in-school and after-school programs at no charge to participants.

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