S.A.D.D Conferences : Why Are They Important 


Carley Burrows

On Friday October, 28th 2022, seventy students from Allegany county including eight from Belfast went to the S.A.D.D conference Students Against Destructive Decision at Genesee Valley Central School. This is a program to give students the best tools to prevent them making destructive decisions such as drug use and under-age drinking. 

First, we all went to the auditorium and Mr. Brian Perkins, he is one of the people who helps to get students involved with things such as the conference. He introduced us to S.A.D.D and explained what the program is all about. Mr. Perkins told us that he had some friends who got into drugs at a young age and ruined their lives.  Mr. Perkins said he never wants this to happen to any people we know.  He then introduced Dr. Richard O’Connor, who came to speak to us specifically about vaping. He works for Roswell Park, studying the impact of vaping and smoking on the lungs.  Dr. O’Connor said that students getting caught with vapes at school has been significantly increasing since the  Covid-19 pandemic started. Then he spoke about how students are getting vapes since they are illegal. Most students are getting them from parents and older siblings. They believe vaping is okay since their parents, siblings, and trusted adults are giving the vapes to them. Dr. O’Connor said that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get students to trust these programs when their trusted adults are saying it is okay to do things such as vape. 

 Vape companies make vapes more appealing to younger people by giving vapes flavors such as chocolate, strawberry, and even cookies and cream. We talked about some possible ways to prevent vaping from happening during school hours. Such as putting up more security cameras. Another thing we spoke about was possibly having our own school-wide S.A.D.D conference to make people listen when it comes to the danger of drug use.  

Then the next speaker was introduced — state trooper Dalton Walsh. He spoke to us about the dangers of cannabis use. He told us how to tell when someone is high or has recently gotten high from cannabis. He said they will have red eyes, will often be very confused ,and possibly have hallucinations. Mr. Walsh told us that a young man he knew had been dangerously high. He had hallucination that he was on fire, so he stripped naked and went running down the street. He almost got hit and then the police were called. Trooper Dalton Walsh was the responding officer. He said this boy was absolutely terrified because the hallucinations seemed so real to him. Then he brought up the point that one can use medical marijuana for an injury and it will be safe unless it is abused by and taking too much. Then it can do much more harm than good. He then went through the laws for owning cannabis, since it is now legal in New York State, such as you can have a small amount in the car with you as long as it is in a closed/sealed container. This was a very informative lecture and it really opened people’s eyes to the real dangers of cannabis and other drug use.  

To wrap up our trip, we got to do something a little more fun than sit through lectures about drug use. The people who run the S.A.D.D conference brought in Eric Jones, who is a pumpkin carver from Allegany county. He recently won a competition show with his pumpkin carvings. Then he was on NBC making pumpkin carvings before one of the Bills games. We worked in teams of  two we all got a pumpkin to carve along with Mr. Jones. We ended up with four pumpkins carved for Belfast. That wrapped up our day at Genesee Valley for the S.A.D.D conference. It was a very interesting and amazing learning experience for all of the students and teachers who attended.