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Teen Day Celebrates Local Area Youth

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Communities across the nation are stepping up their efforts to discourage the use of illegal drugs, tobacco and alcohol and involve their teenaged youth in positive activities. In Cascade County, the non-profit Alliance for Youth hosts an annual Teen Day to celebrate area teens. This year, the Montana National Guard joined forces with other community organizations to conduct fun and educational activities for the youth attending the event. 
     
The 2009 Cascade County Teen Day celebration was considered a great success this year. Large numbers of local area youth gathered at the Paris Gibson Alternative Education Center in Great Falls to take part in activities designed to recognize the contributions teenaged citizens make to the local community. 
     
According to Master Sgt. Robert Brewer, of the Montana National Guard Drug Demand Reduction program, Teen Day allows the event organizers to highlight the positive aspects of life in the local community. "The goals are to get as many kids involved in this as possible, to help foster a drug free community, and to teach our kids that there are important things in life to do other than to be involved in drugs and alcohol," he said. 
     
The six-hour event was divided into two separate time periods directed at middle school and high school aged teenagers, and featured a large variety of activities, such as human bowling, a basketball hoops challenge shoot out and a dodge ball tournament. 
     
The 13th annual event was sponsored in part by the Montana National Guard Drug Demand Reduction program, which provided an impaired driving simulator to demonstrate the serious and harmful effects that alcohol has on the operator of a motor vehicle. "We're running an impaired driving simulation," said Tech Sgt. Caressa Hewitt. "The kids will drive without the DUI-impaired goggles and then they'll drive with them on to see a big difference," she said. 
     
To reach out and attract area teens to the event, the Alliance for Youth placed posters at all of the county's middle and high schools, handed out brochures and advertised the Teen Day in the local newspaper. The organizers offered free pizza and soda to the teens during the popular community youth event. 
     
The organizers of this year's event look forward to continuing to reach out to teens to help educate them on the dangers of drug and alcohol use. "Our mission with the counter drug program is to keep kids drug free and to show them that they can do things in life without doing drugs and alcohol and getting into those dangers. And it's very important for us, from the top down-from the Adjutant General, down to the lowest enlisted person-that drugs are not the way to go," said Sgt. Brewer. 
     
The members of the Montana National Guard Drug Demand Reduction program hope that their contributions result in a better quality of life for the area teenagers. "I think it's just so important because we want to be those role models to the kids and to show them we're doing this drug free. This is just providing a drug-free and safe environment as part of the forty developmental assets that kids need, and it's one way to show that we care about them as teens, and the Montana National Guard cares also," said Sgt. Hewitt.