YOU(th) Decide honors Madison County, NY community for support

Special to the Mid-York Weekly

This year Madison County community members, schools and businesses have come together to make it clear to teens that they care about their health and wellness by supporting YOU(th) Decide.

BRiDGES, the Madison County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., implements the YOU(th) Decide grant for Madison County and would like to thank the Madison County community for continuing to show their support during this unprecedented year of challenges.

YOU(th) Decide, a program through the New York Council on Problem Gambling, is a multi-dimensional prevention effort aimed at reducing underage gambling. The program is working across New York to prevent underage gambling and raise awareness about underage gambling among parents and community leaders.

Each year, community members and local businesses and organizations are an integral part of ensuring this message is spread throughout our community. They have done that in many ways including signing resolutions of support for this program or adding language that prohibits gambling to their student code of conduct. Many schools open their doors to presentations and this year that was able to continue, though virtually.

For many, gambling is not on their radar of issues to worry about. Alarmingly, 39.5 percent of New York State youth between the ages of 12 and 17 have gambled in the past year and nearly 30 percent of these youth state they began gambling at age 10 or younger. With underage gambling leading to increased risk of depression, anxiety and substance abuse, it is critical that teens learn about the risks.

YOU(th) Decide focuses on the prevention of underage gambling by not only educating about the risks of youth gambling, but by giving young people media literacy tools to better understand and assess the truth behind advertisements for gambling.

“While we take a neutral stance on gambling, it’s important that people, especially teens, understand that this activity comes with risks, including addiction. It’s good for young people to have that knowledge so that they can make informed decisions,” said Julie Hengst, a prevention education specialist with BRiDGES.

As of press time, the local community leaders and businesses who supported the mission to prevent and reduce underage gambling included Catania Chiropractic, Hamilton Central School PTO, Madison County Rural Health Council, City of Oneida Department of Parks and Recreation, the Town of Eaton and the Sullivan Free Library. Schools across the county showed support for this mission by inviting BRiDGES staff to do virtual presentations.

For a full list of supporters, please visit the BRiDGES website at

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