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Representatives from both Putnam PRIDE and Putnam High School SADD Chapter attended a leadership forum in the Washington D.C. area recently. Top, left to right: Lauren Deery, Allison Lafortune, Rep. Joe Courtney, Heather Terron, Shannon Fagan. Bottom, left to right: Deery, Lafortune, Senator  Blumenthal, Terron, Fagan. Courtesy photos.
PUTNAM — Representatives from both Putnam PRIDE and Putnam High School SADD Chapter are back from the Washington, D.C. area where they joined more than 2,500 substance abuse prevention specialists and advocates from throughout the country for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s (CADCA) 26th Annual National Leadership Forum.
 “We are so excited to have spent several days with other similar organizations from across the country, learning and honing our prevention skills so our community can be a better place, one that doesn’t suffer from the harms of drug and alcohol abuse,” says Romeo Blackmar, Putnam PRIDE project coordinator. “We came back reenergized with new strategies under our belt to tackle drug use in Putnam.”
CADCA’s Forum covered a wide range of topics – everything from how to prevent prescription drug abuse and the abuse of synthetic drugs and marijuana to how to create tobacco-free environments and develop policies to reduce underage and excessive drinking. 
Putnam High School SADD Chapter members — Lauren Deery, 14; Heather Terron, 16; Shannon Fagan, 17; and Allison Lafortune, 15 — attended the Forum and participated in the National Youth Leadership Initiative (NYLI) and Youth Programs during the conference.  They were accompanied by Lisa Mooney, Putnam High School SADD Advisor and Sgt. Niko Sezenias, the police department’s Youth Officer.
The NYLI helps build the skills of young leaders in coalitions to take on youth-led civic change.  Research has shown that young people who are trained and given the tools needed to effectively impact underage drinking, tobacco use, medicine abuse and misuse, and marijuana use amongst their peers. Putnam’s coalition’s youth members participated in training to help them become strong community leaders.
The coalition has recently impacted the community by providing leadership training for 75 students from Putnam and Griswold Public Schools at a Student Leadership Training Symposium held at Griswold High School.  Putnam Mayor, Tony Falzarano declared the week of January 25-31 National Drug Facts Awareness week for the Town of Putnam, to help teens “Shatter the Myths about Drugs and Alcohol. In conjunction with NDFAW PRIDE Coordinator Romeo Blackmar conducted an original trivia game with local youth groups that tested their knowledge of “Drug Facts.”  
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