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Democrat Photo by Susan Monteleone

SISTER KEVIN JOHN Shields, left – the founder of Awareness Day – and Awareness Day Chair Barbara Neist stand near the Sullivan County Cares Coalition’s sponsor sign on Saturday.

Raising Awareness

By Susan Monteleone
MONTICELLO — March 26, 2002 – Education and awareness were the goals of the 21st Annual Awareness Day at Monticello High School on Saturday.
The day featured many booths and exhibits showing the importance of drug, alcohol and smoking prevention and overall safety for young and old.
The event was started by Sister Kevin John Shields, who was this year’s coordinator and works for the Sullivan County Cares Coalition in Liberty. This year’s event had a new chairperson, Barbara Neist – who couldn’t speak more positively about the event.
“The purpose of today is to let parents, children, grandparents, everyone know the importance of drug awareness and prevention, along with alcohol and smoking,” she explained. “Parents should be involved in their children’s lives and talk to them about the bad factors that these issues can cause. Education is the key to prevention, and it is a lot easier to prevent a possible situation than to try and treat that same situation that could have been prevented.”
Neist added, “The Sullivan County Cares Coalition, who play a big part in the day here today, serves all of Sullivan County, and we offer so many programs for churches, schools and other organizations. We are more than happy to help people educate others. I cannot stress enough the importance of education and prevention. If today’s event helps prevention and makes people and children more aware of the possible dangers, then today’s event is a true success.”
Awareness Day hosted over 52 groups and organizations, including the Sullivan County Tobacco Task Force, the Special Olympics, Daytop and the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department.
Laurie Lotemple of the Sullivan County Tobacco-Free Coalition said, “Today is a great program, and it involves the parents and the children. It is so important to have parents talk to their children about drugs and smoking and to always answer their questions. There is a lot of peer pressure out in the schools and world, and kids need to know that they can count on the adults. Talking to children should begin at a young age and continue through high school and college. It is an important topic that should be talked about.”
Plans are already in the works for next year’s event, and Chairman Neist commended the Daytop drug addiction treatment facility for all their work in assisting with the event.
“Every year Daytop comes in and they set up, clean up and tear down the event for us. They are a wonderful and helpful group, and with their help today, we have had another successful Awareness Day.”

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