About 300 students attend Student Wellness Conference
PAXTON — Hundreds of middle and high school students from across Worcester County learned about the dangers of drugs, got more facts about tobacco and vaping, and heard a personal story of mental illness at District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s 10th annual Student Wellness Conference.
The conference, held at Anna Maria College on Thursday, May 31, had a record-high attendance this year with nearly 300 students attending from about 20 different high schools.
“The conference this year focused on issues our teens are facing every day: drugs and alcohol, vaping and mental health,” Early said. “Prevention is always our focus and I think our presenters did an amazing job encouraging the students who attended to make good decisions and positive choices when faced with these challenges. I’m hopeful that these incredibly engaged students will bring these messages back to their schools and share them with their peers.”
The conference included a keynote presentation by Drug Story Theater, a Plymouth-based group of teens in recovery who delivered their real-life stories of struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. For the first time, this group brought their stories to Worcester County.
The 84 Movement, a statewide youth tobacco prevention movement, talked to students at the conference about tobacco and vaping.
Bancroft School graduate Ali Veinbachs spoke at the conference about her efforts in promoting mental health wellness. Veinbachs is a student ambassador to the SHINE Initiative, a leading organization in recognizing mental illness among children and young adults as a mainstream issue. In high school, she delivered a speech at the State House urging more support for the social and emotional needs of youth.
The Student Wellness Conference is open annually to students from across Worcester County. Initially, the conference focused on preventing underage drinking, but has been expanded over the years to touch on a wide variety of health and wellness topics.