Mythbuster: Simone Bernstein

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Why I think it is important for Kansas government officials to operate in the light of day, rather than in secret, behind closed doors: 

Simone combines scientific fact and stories from former addicts to present the dangers of substance abuse to homeless shelters and schools.

Missouri has one of the highest rates of meth abuse in the country, and prescription drug abuse is one of the nation's fastest growing drug problem. Simone took action to take on these issues head-on. Simone realized that education is the most efficient way to fight prescription drug and meth abuse, and shares that education through volunTEENnation.org, the organization she co-founded with her brother, Jake. 

Through VolunTEENnation, Simone develops and offers free educational presentations using the scientific and statistical information on meth abuse from sources like The National Institute on Drug Abuse, which runs National Drug Facts Week. 

Simone approaches homeless teen shelters and support programs and offeres workshops and presentations on the myths and dangers of meth, alcohol poisoning, and prescription drug abuse of Ritalin. She also actively recruited youth from the shelters to lead programs and workshops at local high schools on the impact of drug abuse. 

Simone knows that her peers are impacted when they learn first-hand about their tragic experiences from the devastating impact of meth and prescription drug abuse. So, Simone coordinates workshops and programs in her community and to area high schools, inviting former prescription drug addicts to share their stories. 

When youth who had struggled with prescription drug abuse shared their experiences to area high school students, the audiences realized the damage and impact of drugs on their bodies from destroying teeth, to extreme loss of weight and track marks on arms. Following the workshops, Simone connected youth to area resources and services for drug addiction and abuse.

Through her presentations, Simone recognizes the benefits of engaging and activating youth in service learning to connect youth in the community with positive role models and mentors, and that peers educating peers can have a huge impact.