Educational Forum to “Save a Life” in Yorktown

Yorktown Patch–

More than 250 teens and adults attended the Save A Life” forum last year, which was designed to inform and empower youth and adults to be community allies and first responders to support teens and families in crisis.

The event came after several tragedies struck Yorktown in 2010 and 2011 with young adults dying prematurely. Since 2005, there have been more than 25 deaths in the Yorktown and Cortlandt Manor communities alone, deaths that have been attributed to drugs and alcohol abuse, depression, as well as physical abuse, bullying and violence.

The second annual event, sponsored by Alliance for Safe Kids (ASK) and the Yorktown Interfaith Ministerial Association, will be held on Sunday, March 11 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Yorktown Stage and Community Center.

“This year the challenge for us is to keep the momentum going,” Alliance for Safe Kids coalition coordinator Lisa Tomeny said about the event. “We’re hoping people will take advantage of this opportunity when we’re not responding to a tragedy. It could make that crucial difference.”

Tomeny called last year’s event an unexpected success, largely due to the need for an urgent response.

The workshops and seminars were the brainchild of The Rev. Claire Woodley-Aitchison, a rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Mohegan Lake, in her thinking about what could be done to educate people and prevent such tragedies. She lost her own son Noah, 16, in a car crash in 2006 when he and his friends were headed to a party.

“Save a Life” will include organizations and community members in an effort to “break the cycle of death, sorrow and regret.”

Tomeny said she wants teens and parents to walk away with increased awareness, tools to recognize the dangers and signs and learn how to take action.

On Sunday, teens will have the opportunity to attend interactive workshops that would give them the tools when having to deal with a difficult situation. Topics include how to help a friend who is talking about suicide, the dangers and signs of drug use and and how to confront a friend.

Jeffrey Veatch, president of the Justin Veatch Fund and whose son Justin who died in his sleep as a result of an accidental drug overdose at age 17 in 2008, will be one of the presenters at the teen workshops.

Adult workshops will also focus on teen suicide prevention, communication between parents and teens, re-establishing stability in homes with troubled teens and young adults, knowing when to take action, as well as “how to use the cops, courts and even jail to help your kid get back on track.”

Keynote speaker at the event is Taryn Grimes-Herbert is the author of the “I’ve Got” character building book series for children. She is also an award winning producer, parenting columnist, Broadway, film, and television actress, mother of two, and the 2010 Women of Achievement in the Arts honoree for Orange County, New York. (Full disclosure: Grimes-Herbert is also a Patch columnist of the weekly There is No Such Thing as A Bully articles).

Organizers of the event wants parents and kids to know that the 911 Good Samaritan Law, which recently passed in New York State, “aims to save lives by encouraging people who witness drug overdoses to call 911 without fear of arrest.” The law provides legal immunity for drug possession prosecution both for the person who overdoses and his/her companion who calls for help.

The “Save a Life” is a program designed to inform and empower members of the communities, with special guest speakers and panels for adults, with and without high school aged children; and workshops for teens from Yorktown, Lakeland and Walter Panas high schools. Students attending “Save A Life” will be eligible to receive three hours of community service credit as well as a signed certificate.

For more information see on the brochure attached to the article as a pdf file or click here. To contact Alliance for Safe Kids email or call 914-736-1450.