MONTPELIER >> On Wednesday, Jan. 26, advocates from across the state attended Prevention Awareness Day at the State House, to spread the word about how communities benefit from the work of the 24 substance abuse prevention coalitions in Vermont. The annual event is organized by Prevention Works! VT, a network of coalitions across Vermont that work to decrease the prevalence of tobacco use, drug use, underage drinking and high-risk drinking in Vermont, especially among youth and young adults.
Mark Weikert, the Physical Education teacher at Flood Brook School, received a Prevention Champion Award at a ceremony during Prevention Awareness Day. This award recognizes and celebrates the achievements of those working in the field of drug abuse prevention in Vermont. Mark notes, "This is not just an award for me but for our whole mountain community where we all work together to create a well rounded and healthy environment for our youth to thrive in."
Weikert is a PE teacher and an advocate for substance abuse prevention and whole child wellness. He works closely with The Collaborative, a substance abuse prevention organization, to ensure the risks and harms of drug and alcohol prevention are heard by youth and families throughout the community.
"To do effective work on substance abuse prevention, we rely upon community partners to spread the message about the risks and harms of use and to encourage young people to refuse to use drugs, alcohol and tobacco and make healthy choices," said Maryann Morris, the executive director at The Collaborative, "Mark is the epitome of a great community partner; he not only spreads the message, he recruits others to the message and shows us all how to live the message. He is a great role model and advocate for our kids and community."
Weikert is a firm believer that all young people are inherently good and are making good choices for themselves every day. He adds that it is our responsibility as adults to be good role models. In his acceptance speech for the Prevention Champion Award he states "On a daily basis I am hearing first hand accounts from students of the confusing messages they are receiving about drug use," he said. "Kids are inherently good and want to make healthy choices but when their role models are not clear on the issue or down play the harms, it causes doubt.I strongly urge us all to think hard about the marijuana issue and its effects on the future generations of Vermont."
Mark is currently the President of SHAPE VT (Society of Health and Physical Educators), serves on the Governor's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council and is an active member of The Collaborative. Mark encourages people, young and old, to make healthy life choices. You can find Mark on the field or in the gym at Flood Brook School doing his part to keep our young people substance free.