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Friday, October 15, 2021

Local students win scholarships for essays on how to decrease substance abuse

NEWPORT — The HealthWorks O.N.E. Coalition recently announced the winner and runner-up of their 2016 Scholarship Essay Contest.

Courtney Blanchard of Canaan and Adrianna Maurais, also a student in Canaan, took top prizes in the contest.

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The essay contest asked students to respond to the question, “What policy would you use to decrease alcohol and substance abuse in your community?”

For her essay, Blanchard wrote about a policy to “develop intensive mental wellness programs” in elementary and middle schools.

“I believe many people turn to substances as an escape from life’s pressures,” she wrote. “But if children were taught to deal with stress in an appropriate manner and at a younger age, it would help them deal with these problems in a much more positive way later on. They need to learn the skills to deal with pressures, rather than turn to substances to hide away. I know there are a lot of students unfortunately exposed to it outside of school and helping them cope would be just as important as what they learned in math that day.”

Blanchard, who will attend Gordon College in the fall, won a $300 scholarship.

Runner-up Adrianna Maurais outlined the impact of alcohol advertising on children.

“Alcohol and tobacco companies only advertise what they feel are the positive sides of these substances,” Maurais wrote. “These positive sides may include woman, parties, great tasting alcohol, the belief that it will make you feel better. But somehow they never include liver disease, lung cancer, and even the physical effects that come from substance abuse. What advertising companies do not realize is that these ads hit more than just young adult males: they make a huge impression among kids and teenagers as well. The promise of a good time and girls is enough to make anyone want to buy a drink, even if they have to come across it illegally.”

Maurais will be attending Plymouth State University, and will receive a $50 prize as runner-up.

The winning student writers will be recognized at the Annual HealthWorks O.N.E. Coalition meeting on June 20th in Lowell.

Funding for this scholarship was generously provided by HealthWorks Coalition partners Northeast Kingdom Learning Services, Orleans County Restorative Justice Center, the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Rural Edge.

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