Group of people standing holding signs

County Executive George Latimer recently honored a group of students from across Westchester who have worked throughout the school year to prevent substance abuse among their peers.

The Westchester County Youth Leadership Taskforce consists of 60 students from 26 schools. These student leaders work in their schools and home communities to identify the needs of local youths and implement strategies to encourage them to make healthy choices.

“I applaud these students for the care and concern they have for their classmates and for their efforts to encourage all young people to live healthy lives,” Latimer said. “The work that we do on behalf of our County’s youth is stronger because of their input and contributions.”

About 30 students recently attended the taskforce’s last meeting of this school year, which was held at the Michaelian County office Building in White Plains. Latimer heard their perspectives on teen vaping, alcohol use, marijuana use and other substance abuse issues.

The Youth Leadership Taskforce is part of the Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth and is coordinated by Student Assistance Services in conjunction with the County’s Office of Drug Prevention and STOP-DWI. The taskforce is charged with contributing ideas for countywide substance use prevention strategies and implementing those strategies in members' schools and local communities.

“We thank and honor our student leaders for their commitment to be positive influencers for their peers and make a difference in the County and their local communities.  Their message to remain drug free and make healthy choices helps to foster physical and emotional well-being among their fellow students,” said Patricia McCarthy Tomassi, director of the Office of Drug Prevention and STOP-DWI.

A main focus for the youth taskforce this year was a ‘marijuana awareness campaign’ that was targeted for release around April 20. While that date has been associated with using marijuana, many schools designate it as "Healthy Brain Day" to remind students of the health risks of marijuana use by youth. 

The taskforce is also part of the Westchester County Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth - the "umbrella" coalition for the approximately 25 local community substance use prevention coalitions in the County.