Miss Florida 2016 Courtney Sexton visited Winter Park High School 9th Grade Center on Nov. 16 to talk to students about drugs, alcohol and addiction.
The presentation is part of the new Real Talk with Miss Florida campaign, in which Sexton will travel to more than 20 middle and high schools in Florida to have an open conversation with students about the dangers of substance abuse.
Winter Park High School was the first school to host Real Talk with Miss Florida.
Sexton said that the possibility of helping teens and adolescents avoid a life of substance abuse and addiction is her goal for Real Talk, and she could not wait to kick off the campaign.
“I’m ready to see what this can potentially lead to,” Sexton told DrugRehab.com. “I think there is a lot of opportunity with this. I think it’s a topic that’s relevant. It’s what the kids need to hear about, and it’s what the kids want to hear about.”
About 250 students circulated into the school auditorium throughout the day for Sexton’s presentation.
Real Talk with Miss Florida provides students with research-based evidence about the risks and consequences of drug and alcohol use. The presentation covers facts about alcohol and drug use, the science of addiction and stories of individuals who have overcome addiction.
Sexton challenged students to abstain from drug abuse and drinking, and she encouraged any student who knows someone struggling with addiction to say something.
“Let’s reach out. Let’s get help,” said Sexton. “The sooner they get help, the safer they will be, the safer their body will be and the easier it will be for them to recover.”
Sexton admitted that before becoming Miss Florida and training to present Real Talk to students, she was unaware of the extent and seriousness of the addiction epidemic that is spreading across the country.
“It was eye-opening going through this training and learning how quickly someone can fall into addiction,” said Sexton. “Sometimes as little as 10 days.”
For kids struggling with addiction, Sexton says do not give up hope and that recovery is possible. She encourages those with addictions to seek the resources they need to find recovery.
“Reach out, go to DrugRehab.com and learn about what’s going on in your life,” Sexton told students during the presentation. “Learn about the tools, learn about the resources, learn about the people like me who are out there and are willing to say ‘hey, I’ll be your friend, I’ll be your [addiction recovery] tool.”
Many students responded to the presentation positively. Bobby Garris, a teacher who helped bring the presentation to Winter Park High School 9th Grade Center, said he thought the program was very successful.
“I think the kids are interested,” said Garris. “We’re talking about this information right now in our classes — alcohol, tobacco, drugs — so it’s perfect timing.”
After the presentation, students took selfies and group pictures with Sexton and posted them to their social media accounts using the hashtag #MissFLRealTalk. Students who posted pictures using the hashtag are automatically entered for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card.
Students were also asked to fill out a questionnaire on drug use among their peers. They responded that marijuana, heroin, alcohol, triple C and ecstasy were the most prevalent drugs among their age group.
Sexton says she thinks that students connected with the information they learned from the presentation.
“I can tell that they are understanding what I’m saying, and I’m getting a lot of positive responses back,” said Sexton.
Florida schools interested in hosting Real Talk with Miss Florida can request a presentation at DrugRehab.com.