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St. Albans teen Ty Brown knows all about the dangers of drugs.
He watched it ruin the lives of some family members and, as a result, the 18-year-old made a pledge to raise awareness about drug abuse. And with the help of Bayside native Meghan Fialkoff, Brown is doing just that.
He is a Drug Free Marshal who visits classrooms and talks to youngsters about the dangers of drugs. The marshal program is a part of the Foundation for a Drug Free World, a nonprofit organization created in 1992. Fialkoff is the director of the New York chapter of the group.
"It's not really a good picture at all," Brown said about witnessing his relatives succumb to the temptation of drugs. "I've seen firsthand the effects of drugs and what they can do to people and how they change a person's personality and emotions and I don't want that to happen to anybody else."
City police and United Nations officials recognized Brown and other city youths for their commitment to fighting the war on drugs as part of the celebration for the United Nation's Day Against Drug Abuse held at the Church of Scientology in Manhattan June 26.
One of the event's purposes was to honor the children who have actively served as Drug Free Marshals, Fialkoff said.
Deputy Inspector Amin Kosseim, from the NYPD Office of Special Projects, and Gerald Jeremiah, a representative of the United Nations Non-Governmental Organization on Narcotic and Substance Abuse, attended the event.
During the ceremony, Fialkoff detailed the purpose of Foundation for a Drug Free World and the role of the Drug Free Marshals. As a Drug Free Marshal, children and teens talk to other youths about what drugs are and what they do to your body, Brown said. The children pledge to live a drug-free life and educate others about the dangers of drugs.
The 10 youths honored at last month's ceremony have been active Drug Free Marshals and come from neighborhoods throughout the city and New Jersey.
The marshals were recognized for their hard work with medals from the office of U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx). At the end of the event, the young marshals swore in the audience to become Drug Free Marshals.
And even though those were just words, the pledge means something to Brown.
"If they know what drugs are, they won't do it in the future and they'll let their friends know and tell their children that drugs aren't good for the body at all," he said.
And even when he is not performing his official marshal duties, Brown tries to educate classmates involved in drugs. Sometimes his peers listen, he said, but often they rebuff his claims that drugs are dangerous. Still, Brown feels better knowing he's at least tried to help.
"I don't want any kids going to jail or getting hurt over drugs," he said. "That's not good on my conscience."
Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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