By Wilmarie Lopez, MA Behavioral Health Therapist
From Dec. 6 – Dec. 8, the Guidance/Care Center’s (G/CC) Key Largo Prevention Program partnered with the Elks Drug Awareness Program (DAP) to bring Ray Lozano, a Drug and Substance Prevention Specialist and Youth Speaker, to present assemblies at high schools throughout the Florida Keys.
During this three-day tour, Mr. Lozano spoke to over 1,780 6th – 12th grade students, parents, teachers, administration, and local Elks members. He brought his knowledge and humor to the stage and educated all on the dangers of vaping, marijuana, and addiction. Ray explained, “how detrimental it is when it is to setting goals if you constantly use weed.” He highlighted that substance use during adolescence, “takes away your ability to do the amazing things that you were designed to do and causes you to become a taker in life and not someone who contributes to society.”
The enthusiastic audience was amazed at how much information Ray presented in 45 minutes. One student said he didn’t realize until the end how much he was learning and laughing all at once. On the first day of the tour, Ray had 81 students start following him on TikTok. By the third day, 175 new students were following him.
A “Hidden in Plain Sight” presentation was held for parents at the Tavernier Elks Lodge. It covered strategies on how to effectively communicate with children, based on their brain development. The exhibit provided a hands-on opportunity to explore a mock teen’s bedroom and explained various trends of teen substance use, signs, symptoms, and lingo.
Since this event was a success, the G/CC hopes to continue this partnership with the Elks DAP and bring other educational prevention guest speakers into our community.