Democrat Photo by Rob Potter
THIS GROUP OF Special Olympians held a weightlifting exhibition at Saturdays Awareness Day. Sitting/kneeling, from left to right, are Derek Finn, Chris Hinkley, Jermaine Edie, John Palmer, Gene Palmer and John Gould. Standing behind them in the same order are William Gould, Billy Salonich, Billy Kohler, Roger Bernhardt and Tony Radizski. They are coached by Peter Watson and Letty Figueroa, who are not pictured.
Awareness Day Now
In Its 20th Year
By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO March 20, 2001 As she watched children of all ages walk through the hallways of Monticello Middle School last Saturday, Sister Kevin John Shields seemed a bit surprised.
Its hard to believe that weve been doing this 20 years, Shields said of Awareness Day.
While it may not seem so, Shields and several other dedicated people and organizations have planned and carried out the annual Awareness Day for the past two decades. The day is filled with a variety of activities, information booths and fun-filled demonstrations all in an effort to show teens and younger children how much fun they can have without drugs and alcohol.
We couldnt do this without Daytop, the Sullivan County CARES Coalition, the county school districts, BOCES and the Recovery Center, Shields commented. I think weve come a long way in those 20 years.
Scores of youngsters, many of whom were sporting some face paint or holding an animal-shaped balloon, enjoyed the days activities. With the theme Drug Free The Way To Be, the event featured a multi-cultural extravaganza, ethnic eatery, the Calico Geese Quilters and a multi-cultural artifacts display.
In addition, a group of Special Olympians put on a weightlifting display.
The Village of Liberty Police and Monticello Police Youth Division sponsored booths filled with information about the dangers of drugs.
And 30 Monticello Middle School students from three clubs the Builders Club, Environmental Club and Junior SADD sponsored informative booths at the event.
Perhaps the most popular event of the day was the basketball game between the Harlem Wizards and the Sullivan County MCAG All-Stars. The bleachers were packed with adults and children alike, laughing at the Wizards comedy-filled antics and marveling at their basketball skills.
Awareness Day Chairperson Jane Lawski praised all of the organizations involved. Lawski especially noted the work done by Monticello Middle School Principal Deborah Wood and the schools staff.
Everybody seems to be having a good time, Lawski said. There is a lot of information available and a lot of things to do.
She noted that Awareness Day is held in a different county location each year to help spread the anti-drug message. Last year, for instance, the event was held at the Liberty High School.
But no matter where Awareness Day is held, its message always seems to get through, said organizers.
This event helps to show children that there are so many positive alternatives to using drugs and alcohol, Shields said.