Protecting you Protecting Me

By Marketta A. Davis

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Office of Hispanic Affairs held “Protecting You/Protecting Me,” presented by David Garcia of Hobbs, N.M.  The presentation was about alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention; and the program itself teaches the consequences of drug use and its effects on communities and families.

Garcia is the executive director of the Teen Court in Hobbs, N.M.  He is also a senior certified prevention specialist and the “Shattered Lives” program director.  According to NMjustice.net, the Lea County Teen Court is an alternative court system for first time offenders in the charge of substance abuse.  This system allows for the alternate and less severe sentencing procedure.  The “Shattered Lives” program presents real-time real life situations that can occur as a result of drinking and driving and allows students the opportunity to learn about the consequences of such actions.

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In the “Protecting You/Protecting Me” presentation, Garcia presented the myths and facts about drugs and alcohol along with the adverse effects to the brain.  He also provided details about drug and alcohol in Portales, Clovis, and surrounding areas.  Such details included how cocaine is becoming a mainstream drug in Albuquerque and how these mainstream drugs commonly reach surrounding cities and towns within three months of their initial arrival and original location.  Garcia also commented on the earliest age of drinking being as young as 11 years old.  In some of his previous elementary and middle school presentations, kids in the fifth and sixth grade openly admitted to participating in under aged drinking.

One of the main focuses of the presentation was the diminishing effects that this type of abuse has on the brain.  “The brain has 120 billion neurons,” he explained.  “And when you consume large amounts of alcohol, these neurons are destroyed.”  Garcia described how the brain transmits messages from one neuron to the next and how alcohol slows and could severely damage these pathways.

At the end of his presentation, Garcia made sure to say that his intention was not to convince anyone not to drink but to make better decisions instead.  He said that the result of telling kids not to drink would end in them doing the exact opposite.  “I’m here to give you guys the facts and to encourage you to make smart decisions.”

The Hispanic Affairs Office will be holding their next event—Craft Day “La Cocinita: Paint Your Own Set” on today, Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. in the CUB Sandia room; followed by a presentation given by Hobbs High School Principal Eppie Calderon on tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. also in the Sandia room.  For questions regarding the remaining events for Hispanic Heritage Month, please contact the office at 562-2451.

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