Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hackensack SOAR club attends youth leadership conference

Members of the Hackensack SOAR (Steering out Alcohol Responsibly) Club attended a two day leadership conference at Felician College on August 19th and 20th.

Approximately 25 students participated in workshops, team building activities, and ice breakers specifically geared towards effectively creating positive change among their peers in their schools and communities. The program was designed to help students work toward raising awareness about underage drinking and drug abuse, as well as creating a network of peer leaders with the ability to educate their groups, schools and communities. Students that participated were members of Hackensack SOAR (Steering Out Alcohol Responsibly), Garfield EPIC (Empower Peers and Inspire Change) and the Bergen County Prevention Coalition Youth Task Force. The students also had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Michael Fowlin, a noted psychologist and presenter on issues of race, discrimination, and violence prevention. He left the students feeling motivated and determined to make a difference in their communities.

"The Youth Leadership Conference was a collaboration between Felician College and The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources of Bergen County as a way of exposing the students to teamwork, emotional development, leadership skills, and personal growth,” said Ben Silverman, Counselor and AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) Education Coordinator at Felician College.  “We are very happy with the success of the conference, as the students were able to learn from each other as well as experience life on a college campus, and look forward to renewing the partnership in the future.”                       

“… I truly loved my experience and I wish I can repeat it again. I met some new incredible people because of this event. We need to do more small events like these because these are the ones that get kids involved and opened up. Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime that I hope I will be able to experience again. When I first left the campus, I felt sort of upset that my experience was over. However, after awhile of thinking about it, my experience is not over. This was just the introduction to a new beginning. I feel like I have gained leadership skills and learned many things about appreciating the life I have now. I did not have a favorite part of my two days there because everything was so great.” Said Alex Barrios, 18 of Hackensack, who is a member of the Steering Out Alcohol Responsibly Program.  “One of the starts of me opening up started during the speaker when I had the time to talk to him personally after his speech and got to know how humble he is even after all of the troubles he has gone through. Also, the activity when we had to ‘cross the line,’ I feel opened up people’s hearts when everyone realized how equal we are and how much support we really have. I feel like we have all realized how easy people judge others without even getting to know who they are. Thank you for this opportunity and experience that I will never forget. This has made me stronger and shaped me as a better person. This has been the highlight of my summer.”

The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources provides community and school-based education programs about alcohol and drug abuse and advocates for responsive prevention and treatment services. The Center's offices are located in Hackensack and its services are available throughout Bergen County.  Children’s Aid and Family Services is one of the leading nonprofit human services organizations serving northern New Jersey. The agency is fully accredited and has served the community for more than 110 years. Its mission is to preserve, protect and, when needed, provide families. Motivated by compassion for vulnerable children, young adults, frail elderly and their families, it provides high-quality and innovative services that meet their social, educational and emotional needs. For more information, call 201.261.2800 or visit

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