Lazaro Monier saw a friend self-destruct as he dropped out of school, seeping further into underage drinking and drug use.
Because of that experience, the student at Piper High School in Sunrise decided to take action to help others. The Broward Youth Coalition zone leader was recognized for his efforts by being selected to attend the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America's Mid-Year Training Institute in Orlando. The sophomore was given a scholarship to attend the four-day event.
"I decided we need to do more in our neighborhoods to change the outcomes," he said. "As a zone leader and the voice for my peers residing in Broward County, I chose the change to start with me. I've seen how these bad habits can change your life, [make you] addicted and give you no future."
He said highlights included meeting youths from across the country and sharing stories, as well as getting insight from representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration and coalition officials.
"Lazaro … expressed an interest in changing the underage drinking patterns in his community through his efforts with the Broward Youth Coalition," said Arthur Dean, the coalition's chairman and CEO. "His active engagement in his coalition was a plus. … A significant highlight [in Orlando] was having Michael Botticelli, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, attend and participate in a number of special events involving the adult and youth attendees."
Monier's mom, Crystal Hayes, said his selection was well deserved. She said he's dedicated a lot of time researching drugs and their negative effects, been part of forums and helped fellow students avoid drug use.
"He decided to take a political science course at Broward College for credit with the plan to learn more of how the laws are made, processed and how this affects the distribution of drugs and alcohol selling to underage consumers," she said.
"My overall focus is really the gang violence, underage substance abuse and those adults who are allowing or supporting these issues in our neighborhoods," Monier said. "… The youth of today must play our role and be the change agents around the world."
For more information, visit Cadca.org.
Scott Fishman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.