Drug and Alcohol Symposium

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JEFFERSON CITY - For the seventh year in a row, Missouri's Youth/Adult Alliance and ACT Missouri held its "Speak Hard" event on Wednesday. The event works to educate teens on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Speakers were brought in from all over Missouri to talk to the teens about the issues. The one speaker not from Missouri, Patrick Perez, is from Texas and used his inspirational speech and break dancing to draw in his audience, educate them, and have fun at the same time.

More than 250 teens met in a large conference room in the Truman Building in Jefferson City for much of the day, starting in the early morning. Later in the day, they split into workshops that would discus many issues that are connected to drugs and alcohol, everything from parties to bullies.

Some teens have been attending this event for the past two or three years, and a few of those took what they learned and applied it in their own communities.

Alicia Ozenberger, a member of ACT Missouri, an organization focused on drug-free teens, said, "Those kids went above and beyond what we talk about here and did good things for their community."

These teens were recognized at the end of the day and some were presented with awards by legislators from their district. After final words from those organizing the event, many of the teens crossed the street to the Capitol for a chance to talk with their legislators about what their concerns and thoughts are on drug and alcohol abuse.

The event also coincided with a scheduled roundtable discussion initiated by the Obama administration to find out the interests and concerns of the country's youth. President Obama has asked for such discussions with the country's younger generation in every state. This roundtable took advantage of the diversity of teens present at the "Speak Hard" event to give a better representation of Missouri.